The La Center Police Department is currently investigating a string of suspected arsons on new construction in the city.
On May 14, La Center police posted a bulletin asking residents for any and all information related to fires occurring at houses being built in the city. The first fire happened early morning Feb. 28 in the development near W 13th Street and Aspen Avenue, according to Clark County Fire & Rescue Division Chief Ben Peeler at the time of the blaze.
La Center Police Sgt. Robert Scott said the house was completely framed and roofed but was “completely destroyed.” Since the first fire, there have been three other fires in the development area, which police believe are connected.
During their investigation of the most recent fire earlier this month, Scott said they spoke with witnesses who potentially saw individuals leaving the area of the fires, though the department is not releasing much detail at this point.
Scott said that all of the fires incurred felony-level damage — when he spoke to The Reflector he did not have dollar estimates of damage, though Portland-area news station KGW reported police said there had been more than $150,000 of damage done.
Scott said that though the fires have been localized to the development off of West 13th Street and Aspen Avenue his department has been patrolling other housing construction in the city as a precaution.
“If the opportunities go away in one area they might hit other areas,” he said.
Scott said that in La Center the string of suspected arsons was unprecedented. He said other law enforcement agencies had contacted his department on potential connections with fires they had experienced but, as of when he spoke to The Reflector, police did not believe there was any link outside of what happened in the city.
“It looks like it happens in other areas a little more frequently, but no, not in our community … we haven’t seen this kind of arson,” Scott said.
“Over the years I’ve (seen) some reckless burning and things of that nature, but to see that it’s actual arson that looks like it’s linked to multiple incidents, that’s pretty unprecedented to us,” Scott, a roughly 15-year La Center Police veteran said.
Police are asking that anyone with information potentially linked to the fires contact them at (360) 263-2745, as listed on their bulletin.
“Even if somebody feels like it’s small in nature … we would love to know about it,” Scott said.