Eagle Point man faces charges in blaze near Ed's Oasis

Eagle Point man faces charges in blaze near Ed's Oasis

EAGLE POINT — An Eagle Point man has been jailed on charges he started the fire that destroyed a historic building in town.

Justin William Keaton, 36, was arrested by Eagle Point police at 5:30 p.m. Thursday in White City. Keaton was charged with first-degree arson and was being held on $1 million bail in connection with the Tuesday evening fire at the original Ed's Oasis building at 866 S. Royal Ave.

His arrest did not come as a surprise to some.

"He's always threatening everybody to burn their house down," said Melody Scheer, 43, a bartender at Ed's Oasis who lives across from the former tavern.

The building, across from the current Ed's Oasis tavern, had been owned by the Dahack family for about 90 years, said current owner Ed Dahack, 88. When Dahack moved the tavern across the street in 1964, he rented out part of the original building and stored tools and materials in the rest.

Dahack said Keaton had been kicked out of Ed's Oasis numerous times and was banned a few years ago.

Soon after the fire, many neighbors reported seeing Keaton acting suspiciously around the building. Scheer reported that two people saw him run from the side of the building when the fire started.

Jennifer Burg, 26, said she saw a man described as Keaton standing in front of her house, which is near Ed's Oasis, immediately before the fire "with a blank, lost look on his face." Soon after she saw him take off across her neighbor's property.

Lynda Tupper and Stephen Malloy, who lived upstairs in the now-destroyed building, were barbecuing outside and saw Keaton lingering on their property and said he crawled under their deck to relieve himself. Malloy said he shooed him away. Moments later the fire started.

"He seems like a happy-go-lucky guy, but he is kinda strange," Scheer said.

District No. 3 Fire Deputy Fire Marshal Don Hickman said the barbecue was not the cause of the fire.

Court records reveal that Keaton has a lengthy criminal history dating back to 2000 that includes counts of assault, theft, escape, trespassing, tampering with a witness and possession of a controlled substance.

Fire investigators declined to give specifics pending the police investigation. The investigation was being coordinated between the Eagle Point police department and the Jackson County Fire District No. 3's fire investigation team, Hickman said.

"We just processed the physical stuff," Hickman said.

The point of origin was determined to be the rear portion of a shed behind the building, Hickman said.

Eagle Point police Detective Jim Gray said while a number of people seem certain that Keaton started the fire, the case will have to play out through the criminal justice system.

"Unfortunately, thinking someone did it and knowing it are two different things," said Gray. "There has to be probable cause."

Reach intern Teresa Thomas at 776-4464 or at

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