PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A string of fires in a popular Portland park has neighbors and visitors on edge as investigators look to find those responsible.
The fires set at Mt. Tabor have escalated in the last couple of weeks, ranging from small fires of a few feet to hillsides.
Two main parts of Mt. Tabor Park have been hit by suspected arsonists in the last few weeks, with many fires set just feet away from trails. Luckily, most have been stopped before getting too large, but homeowners and firefighters, alike, worry about what can happen if they continue.
“This park is, I think, the most special thing about Portland,” said one person who comes to Mt Tabor multiple times each week and even moved to the area for close access.
From hiking and biking to runners, Mt Tabor has become a serene oasis in the heart of Portland, but in recent weeks, the forested park has been threatened with dozens of fires on both ends. A group of locals first spotted large wood piles taking shape off trails and while it’s unclear if they’re connected, they started looking closer off trails and found scorch marks throughout the area.
“We found 33. Four of them were over 20 feet large,” said one person who wanted to remain anonymous. “These are all definitely separate fires.”
Now, Portland Fire and Rescue’s arson investigations unit is getting involved, as concerns for larger fires spreading to nearby homes remain top-of-mind for residents and firefighters.
“We are able to get to them pretty quick, that’s fortunate, but they can lead to bigger fires. This is a forested area that’s scary for us,” said Terry Foster with Portland Fire and Rescue.
As once-beautiful parts of the beloved park are now scorched, from live Douglas Firs now charred to brush areas burnt out deep in the trail, locals want the people lighting these fires to stop and respect Portland’s natural parks.
“The most important thing would be just leave the park,” the woman who wished to remain anonymous, told KOIN 6. “Don’t do this here.”
So far, there doesn’t appear to be any suspects identified in this string of fires. Portland Fire and Rescue asks if you know anything about what’s happening along Mt. Tabor, call 503-823-FIRE. They’re also reminding those responsible that while they may think they’re doing something small, these fires can quickly grow and arson charges are severe.