Portland man faces felony arson charge in Medford case

A Portland man faces a felony arson charge for reportedly setting three fires inside a family member's home in Medford last week. Ronald Jedidah Fehlhaber, 26, was arraigned Monday and remains 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, said Medford police Lt. Bob Hansen.

The fire was doused quickly before it could spread. Police learned that Fehlhaber had set three fires in three different places inside the house and then fell 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. 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 placing him in handcuffs, Hansen said.

The house belonged toFehlhaber'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 in Portland and was in Medford to stay with family. He'd had run-ins with police before 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 on Sept. 6.

"He has a reputation of being very uncooperative when he gets drunk," Hansen said. "We are glad these fires were quickly controlled and this didn't turn out worse."

Fehlhaber remained lodged in jail on $1 million bail.

Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 541-776-4471 or email cconrad@mailtribune.com.

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