PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Investigators have determined arson was the cause of a fire at Reo’s Ribs in Northeast Portland in late November and have identified a suspect they would like to question, according to authorities.
The fire happened in the early morning hours of Nov. 23, where crews arrived to smoke coming from the back of the Northeast Sandy Boulevard building and then discovered flames both on the exterior and interior. The blaze was quickly extinguished and no injuries were reported.
On Monday, a spokesperson for Portland Fire and Rescue confirmed to KOIN 6 News that investigators concluded the fire was intentionally set and said they have a suspect they would like to question.
“I feel really relieved that we know who did it and we know that we might be stopping other fires,” Reo’s Ribs co-owner Myra Girod told KOIN 6 News. “And we know that it isn’t racially motivated or hate motivated.”
The Hollywood District restaurant was destroyed in another fire back in 2017 and reopened after rebuilding. That fire was determined to be accidental, but Varnado said at the time he did not believe that.
Reo Varnado is also the uncle of Snoop Dogg, and was on his nephew’s cooking show with Martha Stewart filming a segment at the time of the 2017 fire.
Just days before the most recent fire, a family member at Reo’s Ribs told KOIN 6 News that when he came into work he was able see the protest-related damage in the neighborhood. Ricky Varnado, who works at his brother’s business, said that while Reo’s wasn’t damaged, the building next door was and called it disappointing.
Despite the economic setbacks facing Portland businesses, Girod said the community has been overwhelmingly supportive of Reo’s Ribs since it reopened after the first fire.
“People knew that we were open finally and we were doing well,” she said. The restaurant was offering delivery and takeout during the pandemic. Now, Girod isn’t sure when they’ll be able to reopen, though she’s hopeful it will be sometime this coming spring.
KOIN 6 News reached out to the Portland Police Bureau for more information, but they declined to comment.