Man charged with arson for reportedly starting fires in sister's house

A Portland man faces a felony arson charge for reportedly setting three fires inside a family member's home in Medford last week.

Ronald Jedidiah Fehlhaber, 26, remains lodged in the Jackson County Jail on charges of first-degree arson, attempted assault of a police officer and resisting arrest.

Medford police and firefighters were called to a home in the 1000 block of Cherry Street on Friday for a report of smoke seen coming from a residence, Medford police Lt. Bob Hansen said.

The fire was doused quickly before it could spread. Police learned that Fehlhaber had set fires in three places inside the house, then had fallen asleep, Hansen said.

"We don't know why he set the fires other than he was extremely intoxicated when the incident occurred," Hansen said.

Fehlhaber allegedly set fire to curtains, a towel and a box of envelopes before passing out at 2:30 a.m. Friday.

Officers found him sleeping inside the smoky house and attempted to wake him for questioning.

When he woke he began fighting police, who subdued him with a Taser before hooking him in handcuffs, Hansen said. He was arrested then.

The house belonged to Fehlhaber's sister. There were other people sleeping inside the home when the fires were started, Hansen said.

"This could have been a deadly situation," Hansen said. "Fires can spread quickly and the smoke can be poisonous. If the smoke would have gotten into a bedroom while someone was asleep they could have died."

Fehlhaber has been living Portland and was in Medford to stay with family. He has had run-ins with police prior to Friday's arson case, Hansen said.

Jackson County Circuit Court records show he has three previous convictions for fourth-degree assault, as well as convictions for physical harassment, criminal mischief and escape.

Fehlhaber is scheduled to make his next court appearance Sept. 6. Fehlhaber remains lodged in jail on $1 million bail.

— Chris Conrad

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