Camper burns near Bagdad Theater, accused arsonist arrested


The man started the fire after violating a restraining order, police said

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Flames devoured a truck camper Wednesday afternoon in Southeast Portland — and police say the blaze wasn’t an accident.

The fire gutted the camper parked near Southeast 37th and SE Mill Street behind the McMenamins Bagdad Theater and Pub.

Portland police said a man violated a restraining order, set the camper on fire and was quickly arrested.

Kat West lives in the neighborhood. She told KOIN 6 News she overheard officers saying the man used some kind of accelerant to start the fire from within. He then jumped out and was tackled by authorities.

Neighbors gathered at a safe distance as the flames shot skyward, popping out windows and putting off intense heat.

“It was a little bit of smoke, a little bit of flame and 15 seconds later, the flames shot up 30 feet,” said West, who took a video of the fire.

A truck camper was set on fire in SE Portland, officials say, Aug. 21, 2019. (Courtesy of Kat West)

West told KOIN 6 News she grew worried as the blaze quickly escalated.

“We were all really scared because the fire was so intense that it was going to catch the house right next door on fire,” she said. “We were really nervous about that.”

West said she recognized — and had even spoken with — the man accused of setting the fire. Officers have not yet released his identity.

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