Oregon man is charged with arson in Stagecoach wildfire

PORTLAND — Police arrested a Central Oregon man accused of starting a wildfire that burned a Klamath County cabin and forced the evacuation of about 120 homes.

Kelly Parker, 30, of La Pine, pleaded not guilty Tuesday afternoon to charges of first-degree arson and reckless burning. A judge set bail at $25,000 and Parker, who was assigned an attorney, remained in the county jail, District Attorney Rob Patridge said.

The prosecutor declined to say what method Parker allegedly used to start the 350-acre Stagecoach fire, which ignited Monday afternoon near Gilchrist in the northern part of Klamath County.

Firefighters reported progress by the evening and residents were allowed to return home before midnight. Firefighters said their task now is to improve the line around the fire and make sure flames don't jump outside it.

There were no injuries. Bend television station KTVZ reported that the burned vacation cabin was unoccupied.

Elsewhere, a 40-mile stretch of the lower Deschutes River was closed to rafters Tuesday as authorities battling a wildfire worried about the safety of river runners pulling in at night to camp.

The fire that began Saturday on the Warm Springs Indian Reservation has burned from the west to the river's edge, said Lisa Clark of the Central Oregon fire dispatch center.

Neither side of the popular whitewater river was considered safe. "We have a pretty good history of fires jumping the river," Clark said.

The closure immediately affected about 100 rafters with permits to put in Tuesday on the Warm Springs-Nena stretch of the river, Clark said.

They were allowed to run downstream stretches instead. The Warm Springs-Nena stretch is the first segment runners can take on the lower Deschutes. Upriver, the Deschutes is dammed.

The fire has burned on about 35 square miles of grass, sagebrush and juniper on the lightly populated reservation east of the Cascade Range.

Firefighters said the spread of the fire slowed on Monday.

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