Medford police investigate months-long string of possible arsons

A series of fires that have damaged vacant west Medford homes since April 2012 makes police think they are dealing with a serial arsonist.

A fire reported at 6:23 a.m. today at 1947 Stewart Ave., is the latest in the list of eight cases that started April 24, 2012, at 1122 W. 11th St.., investigators said.

This morning's fire was extinguished by Medford Fire-Rescue crews, but left the home significantly damaged. The cause has since been determined to be arson, just like the seven previous incidents.

"Sometimes there was clear evidence of there being an accelerant (or) some type of debris that was set on fire," said Medford police Lt. Mike Budreau. "There was no other reason for the fire to exist. In some cases there was clear evidence; in other cases, other natural causes were simply ruled out."

Investigators have not identified any suspects at this time. There is no solid information on reports of suspicious people in the area during the blazes, or of any suspicious behavior. Most of the fires were reported at night, although a couple happened during the afternoon hours.

"People are missing the part where it's actually being started," Budreau said. The fires have been reported on Stewart Avenue, West Eleventh Street, Thomas Road, South Ivy Street, Narregan Street, West Main Street, and South Columbus Avenue, police said.

Authorities added that no specific property management companies or individuals seem to be in the crosshairs of the suspect or suspects.

"I think the only common thread here is that they are vacant homes," Budreau said.

Anyone with information about the case should call Detective Bill Ford at 541-774-2230.

— Ryan Pfeil

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