Editor’s Note: This article was updated to include additional charges filed against the suspect.
SALEM, Ore. (KOIN) — After a series of late night fires in the same general area of Salem, a 28-year-old man was arrested and booked on 3 charges, including arson.
The first Saturday night fire began around 10 p.m. in a dumpster at the BottleDrop building in the 1900 block of Lancaster Drive NE. Two other fires were reported in the same area over the next few hours, Salem police said Sunday afternoon.
A suspect description was passed along to officers from surveillance video at the BottleDrop.
Around 1 a.m. a fourth fire began, this one at the Lucky Fortune Restaurant at 1401 Lancaster Drive NE. An officer spotted Leonardo Hernandez-Cruz trying to flee the scene and arrested him.
Authorities said Hernandez-Cruz “later admitted” his involvement in the fire at the BottleDrop.
The other fires remain under investigation and authorities did not immediately provide any more information.
Jessie, who witnessed the Lucky Fortune fire told KOIN 6 News “there was just a fire on the other side (of the building) about two hours ago.”
He said he did what he could to put the fire out.
“We ran out back and I tried to grab a fire extinguisher to put it out but obviously it got too big,” he said. “The thing just went up.”
Yong Ping Li, whose family recently bought the Lucky Fortune, said the blaze is a devastating blow.
““We got it just past one year and we were working on making it better and changing stuff and then this happened so suddenly,” he said.
Li said he feels this fire was no coincidence. As he and his family work to see what they can salvage, he hopes the community stays vigilant.
“There’s a lot of things going on right now and last night was just rough,” Li said Sunday. “Before us there was actually a fire just over there.”
Earlier in the week, a man was seen on surveillance video starting a dumpster fire that significantly damaged Lighthouse Home Loans in West Salem. Investigators have also not connected that fire with the Saturday night fires and said that investigation is separate.
Hernandez-Cruz will be arraigned Monday in Marion County Circuit Court on 2nd-degree arson, 1st-degree criminal mischief and 2nd-degree disorderly conduct.
SPD announced on Tuesday that additional charges were filed against Hernandez-Cruz, including 1st-degree arson.
Anyone with information on any of these arson cases is urged to contact the Salem Police Tips Line at 503.588.8477.