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The arrests follow an intensive investigation by multiple agencies because of the fire threats.

COURTESY PHOTO: KOIN 6 NEWS - The fires set at Mount Tabor have ranged from a few feet to hillsides.Portland Fire & Rescue investigators have arrested people suspected of serial arson near Mount Tabor and surrounding areas.

The names of the suspects were not formally released. Each suspect has been charged with five counts of arson in the first degree and four counts of arson in the second degree. They are lodged in the Multnomah County Justice Center.

Although Portland Fire & Rescue did not identify the suspects in its news release, the following three people were booked into the jail on arson charges Sunday, Sept. 11: Wayne Chen, 18; Malik Mateo Hares, 18; and Samuel Owen Perkins, 18.

According to Portland Fire & Rescue, the arrests came after an intense investigation with information provided by concerned citizens and the cooperation of Portland Police and Portland Parks

The string of fires in the popular Portland park has had neighbors and visitors on edge. They had escalated in the last couple of weeks, ranging from small fires of a few feet to hillsides. Luckily, most were extinguished before getting too large, but homeowners and firefighters alike worried about what could happen if they continued.

"This park is, I think, the most special thing about Portland," said one person who comes to Mount Tabor multiple times each week and even moved to the area for closer access.

From hiking and biking to runners, Mount Tabor has become an 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 local residents 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.

COURTESY PHOTO: KOIN 6 NEWS - A scorched hillside on Mount Tabor."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."

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 (and) that's scary for us," said Portland Fire & Rescue's Terry Foster.

As once-beautiful parts of the park are now scorched, from charred Douglas firs to brush areas burned out deep in the trail, locals want people to respect Portland's natural parks.

COURTESY PHOTO: KOIN 6 NEWS - Many trees at Mount Tabor were singed."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."

KOIN 6 News is a news partner of Pamplin Media Group and contributed to this story.


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