BEND, OR -- Oregon State Police believe a Utah man is responsible for several wildfires in southern Deschutes County, late last month. Three were kept small, but the fourth – known as the McKay Fire – led to evacuations of Lava River
Cave and eventually burned more than 1,200 acres.
Oregon State Police Captain Bill Fugate says 37-year-old Christopher Wilson was arrested in Malheur County, last week. "We recovered evidence at the scene; then also, there was at least one witness that observed him and the vehicle leaving the area of the fire. Through investigation, we determined who he was and we knew that he had left the state. We conducted surveillance on him and as he entered Oregon on I-84, into Ontario from Idaho, our troopers stopped him and he was arrested for driving a stolen vehicle."
It's the same Hyundai Sonata with California plates that he allegedly was driving when the fires started, "The witness observed that blue car leaving the area very rapidly. And they were fortunately able to get a license plate and description of that vehicle and driver."
Wilson is expected to be brought back to Deschutes County, soon "He’s been indicted by a Deschutes County Grand Jury on several counts of arson and reckless endangerment," says Capt. Fugate. "And, he’ll be facing arraignment shortly in Deschutes County Circuit Court."
Investigators suspect Wilson may be connected to other fires, "We’re asking the public if they happened to see a 2016 blue Hyundai sedan with a ‘Go Army’ sticker in the back, or saw our suspect anywhere, to let us know. We’re trying to establish a timeline of kind of where he was at in Oregon." Capt. Fugate adds, "We know he may have been on the west side of Oregon, also. So, there’s potential he may have started other fires, or attempted to start other fires."