PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Three 18-year-old men were arrested for arson in Mt. Tabor early Sunday morning and two of them now face charges for starting dozens of fires around the park, according to Portland Fire.
Samuel Perkins and Malik Hares both appeared in court Monday and pleaded not guilty. The Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office says there isn’t enough evidence to charge Wayne Chen, the third suspect.
“It’s not just the act itself, it’s the timing of it that shows a complete disregard as alleged, which is concerning,” said Multnomah County Judge Adrian Brown.
According to the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office, the men are accused of starting multiple fires between July 15 and Sept. 9. Another fire was allegedly started on Friday or Saturday, when Portland was under a red flag warning for extreme weather conditions.
The sheriff’s office also says that video footage shows Hares and Perkins at Mt. Tabor around the time one of the fires was started. Both men reportedly admitted involvement in starting the fires.
Aubrey Goldfarb, who lives near Mt. Tabor, told KOIN 6 News that she noticed something was off in May when wood piles started showing up around the park. She also noticed scorch marks and other suspicious things around Mt. Tabor.
“I couldn’t see a reason for these dead wood piles. They looked like boy scout bonfire piles with all the different shapes and sizes of logs and timber,” she said.
When multiple fires started at Mt. Tabor over the last month, many other people in the community began to take notice. Portland fire officials say those efforts helped with these arrests, which came as Portland was under a fire weather warning.