Federal officials are looking into whether a series of wildfires burning out west are at least partially the result of arson as more than a half-million people in Oregon alone were forced to flee their homes.
On the anniversary of the deadliest terrorist attack in U.S. history, fire officials in Oregon were ordering people to evacuate the heavily-populated northwest portion of the state as fires burned out of control.
People evacuated statewide because of fires had climbed to an estimated 500,000—more than 10 percent of the 4.2 million people in the state, the Oregon Office of Emergency Management reported late Thursday.
One fire approached Molalla, triggering a mandatory evacuation order for the community of about 9,000 people located 30 miles (48 kilometers) south of Portland. A police car rolled through the streets with a loudspeaker blaring “evacuate now.”
The evacuees included inmates housed at a women’s prison located less than a mile from Interstate 5 in the suburbs of Portland, where Antifa and Black Lives Matter thugs have been purposely trying to burn down police, government, and federal buildings all summer long.
The women’s prison was not yet being directly threatened by flames, however, but officials with the Oregon Department of Corrections said the inmates were evacuated “out of an abundance of caution.”
Two large fires were threatening to converge into one massive conflagration by Friday, officials said, nothing that firefighters in Clackamas County were ordered to temporarily disengage because of growing danger.
Meanwhile, officials attempted to calm nerves and reassure the public as well as residents who were ordered to leave their homes. Police said they would be beefing up patrols in the area to prevent looting — and with so much Antifa and BLM around, no doubt that’s a necessary course of action to take.
Local fire officials said on Twitter: “To be clear, your firefighters are still working hard on the wildfires in Clackamas County. They are taking a ‘tactical pause’ to allow firefighters to reposition, get accountability & evaluate extreme fire conditions.”
“We haven’t abandoned you,” the fire officials added.
As to the cause of at least some of the fires, federal law enforcement officials believe they are part of a “coordinated and planned” attack. We reported:
Many of these arson attacks are being strategically coordinated to destroy suburban areas in the Western United States. Law enforcement are putting everyone on high alert to help identify “opportunists” who seek to set communities ablaze. They have apprehended a number of arsonists and warn that there are still some on the run.
Specifically, law enforcement officials have arrested Christine Comello, 36, for allegedly starting several fires including one involving a pallet outside of a commercial business and another that was set to blow up an old oil drum.
Also, Elias Newton Pendergrass, 44, is suspected of igniting a fire that torched some 400 acres, which caused residents west of Eugene to bail out. As of this writing, he is still on the loose.
And Anita Esquivel, 37, is suspected of lighting fires along Highway 101 near Salinas, Ore.
“We are reacting to a coordinated series of attempts to start fires anywhere and everywhere in Oregon. Public and Private lands, incorporated and unincorporated areas,” federal officials said, adding that all indications are the fires are part of a larger “coordinated effort” to commit arson in regions of the state that are not very well protected.
In all, wildfires are burning in Oregon, California, and Washington state, according to Law Enforcement Today, which added in a Breaking News alert that federal officials warned there could be more “attacks” soon.
“By all indications so far in the preliminary stages of these investigations there is a coordinated effort on the part of these individuals to start fires in areas that are the least protected and most vulnerable then slowing working their way into more populated areas and neighborhoods,” officials said.