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Seven C.O. fires in 10 days - all human caused

By Wanda Moore
Published On: Jun 17 2014 11:02:29 PM CDT
Updated On: Jun 17 2014 11:05:59 PM CDT

NewsChannel 21's Wanda Moore looked into the ongoing investigation on four separate fires in Central Oregon.

BEND, Ore. -

Four incidents, with a total of seven fires, have been reported in just 10 days on the High Desert, and authorities say all of them appear to be human-caused.

It all started on Saturday, June 7th with two nearly simultaneous blazes that later merged to become the Two Bulls Fire that blackened nearly 7,000 acres and threatened homes northwest of Bend.

Three days later, on Tuesday June 10th, a third fire was spotted west of the Two Bulls blaze, south of Skyliners Road, and caught fast at just a quarter-acre. 

Then, on Sunday, three small fires apparently were set in the Graham Corral area and the next day a 2.2-acre fire was put out by the Tollgate community near Sisters.

Joshua Sarles, 29, who lives in the Tollgate community, has been arrested for the three small, campfire-sized blazes.

Deschutes County sheriff's deputies said the fires did not cause any damage. And they say Sarles, a local musician, is most likely not responsible for the Tollgate fire. 

"When the fire was spotted, it was already a quarter-acre to half an acre in size," said sheriff's Sgt. Troy Gotchy. "I'm not sure that had he set that fire, it would have enough time to get to that size."

According to the sheriff's office, Sarle's mother called police Monday morning, telling them her son went out in the woods, saying he wanted to set things on fire. The Tollgate Fire was spotted about 20 minutes later at half an acre and was contained around 2 p.m. at 2.2 acres.

"We have no evidence at this time that links Sarles to the 2-acre fire," Gotchy said.

Oregon State Police and other agencies also are still investigating the Two Bulls Fire and the later, third blaze near it. They have gotten over 60 tips from the community, but so far have not made any arrests. 

NewsChannel 21 asked OSP if Sarles is a suspect in the Two Bulls Fire. OSP said they are still investigating and are looking into all possible leads, that is one of them, but they are not calling him an outright suspect at this time.

A reward fund for information leading to the arrest and conviction of whoever started the Two Bulls Fire has topped $40,000. You can contact the sheriff's office at (541) 693-6911 or Crime Stoppers at 1-877-876-TIPS. You can remain anonymous, and could be eligible for a cash reward.

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