TIGARD, Ore. (KOIN) — A homeless man is behind bars, accused of setting multiple fires that threatened businesses in the city of Tigard on Thursday.
One of those fire spread to the storefront of The Green Light District Smoke Shop on Pacific Highway. The owner said a witness actually saw the man light the fire in the arborvitae trees outside. They went up like matchsticks and employees scrambled to stop the flames.
“[The fire] just grew super quickly and went up into the sign,” said Aubre Webb, the owner of the smoke shop. She said if it weren’t for quick-thinking staff, the business might have been lost. “Had we not been open, and nobody would have been there, nobody would have stopped it in time.”
A passerby ran into the store and yelled that the building was on fire. Then employees grabbed the fire extinguishers.
“They came out with a total of 6 fire extinguishers to get it taken care of,” said Webb.
Tigard police arrested 26-year-old Joseph Martinez. He is accused of starting three other fires in town in the same afternoon. The first was found burning in a trash can at a Tri-Met shelter near Main Street and Scoffins Street. As police investigated there, another fire was reported just a few blocks away near a fence at the Tigard American Legion. Post Commander Barbara Davis said their neighbor saw a man using a lighter to ignite the leave. Fortunately, they were damp and the fire didn’t spread to the Legion.
“Some of them did and had the potential to impact structures,” said Jim Wolk, the Public Information Officer for the Tigard Police Department.
The fourth fire of the day was called in by employees at the Union Gospel Mission. Flames were found in an alley between Rack Attack and Les Schwab—across the street from the smoke shop.
“I am really, really relieved that they made an arrest, not just for us, but the other stores in the area that were affected,” said Webb. “I know we weren’t the only targets, but again, I also feel bad for this person and I hope they can get the attention that they need.”
Police said no one was injured from the four fires that were set that day. Martinez is facing charges of arson, reckless burning, and criminal mischief. He was arrested near the Highway 217 overpass.
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