A fire at a homeless camp across the street from McMenamins Edgefield led to the arrest of one on an unrelated warrant.
Jerry Hunter, who operates Multnomah County's community service farm across the street from Edgefield, said he heard a loud "pop" around 9:04 a.m. on Thursday, March 2, while driving on Southwest Halsey Street in Troutdale.
He saw smoke and dialed 911.
Engine 75 responded to the blaze, knocking down the flames within 10 minutes. The campsite — a lean-to propped against a sunken log — appeared to be a total loss.
"There were flames everywhere," said Deputy Fire Marshal Duston Yacapin. "(The cause) could have been a gas propane cylinder."
The Multnomah County Sheriff's Office arrested camper Randy Joe Howard Jr., 34, on an unrelated warrant for shoplifting at Kohl's. He was released to a homeless shelter in downtown Portland later that day.
"He's been here for a minute, probably through the winter" said Hunter, whose cropland borders the vacant fields on the north side of Halsey.
A MCSO deputy at the scene said Howard's father, who is also named Randy Howard, lives across the railroad tracks at another camp. Methamphetamine use has been a concern in the area.
"Deputy Brown came across Mr. Howard as a result of responding to the fire call, but the arrest itself was not related," a police sergeant said in a phone interview. "He contacted two adult males down there during this call, and he arrested Mr. Howard on an outstanding warrant."