Multnomah Sheriff: Armed citizens' checkpoints are illegal
Corbett residents were warned against setting up illegal armed checkpoints in their community hours after fireworks sparked a small blaze Friday afternoon, Sept. 11.
The admonition was made by the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office, which while sympathetic to the anxiety around statewide wildfires, warned residents against setting up roadblocks and stopping cars passing through Corbett.
Allegedly those residents were armed and asking drivers for their identification.
"While we understand their intent is to keep the community safe, it is never legal to block a public roadway or force other citizens to stop," the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office shared in a statement. "This type of action increases the risk of injury to everyone at one of these roadblocks."
Deputies told those manning the roadblocks their actions could lead to citations or arrests, though none were made Friday.
Sheriff Mike Reese issues a statement regarding illegal roadblocks and fire concerns in East Multnomah County. pic.twitter.com/WvmIavU39V— Multnomah Co Sheriff (@MultCoSO) September 12, 2020
The checkpoints came after vigilant residents identified and doused a small fire in the 1700 block of Northeast Brower Road in Corbett after hearing a series of pops and seeing 6-foot flames in the forest. An investigation found the fire was intentionally set using fireworks, law enforcement said.
The idea of fireworks sparking an inferno is not a foreign concept for those in the Columbia River Gorge. In 2017 the Eagle Creek Fire, which was caused by a teenager and fireworks, burned almost 50,000 acres.
"The Eagle Creek Fire is still fresh on all our minds and the devastation it caused to the scenic Columbia River Gorge," said Sheriff Mike Reese.
Multnomah County Sheriff's Office specially assigned deputies to prioritize any fire-related calls in rural Multnomah County. Community members are asked to call 911 if they see suspicious activity or people.
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.