It’s been nearly two years since the most devastating disaster in the history of Jackson County, the Almeda Fire. On September 8, 2020 at 11:04 a.m. a fire started in a dry field along Almeda Street in Ashland. The fire quickly travelled northwest driven by strong winds. Before containment, the fire destroyed 2,428 structures, damaged 134 more, and tragically claimed three lives.
Ashland Fire and Rescue, in consultation with the Oregon State Police (OSP) Arson Unit and the State Fire Marshal’s Office, determined the fire was of human origin. Local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies immediately began working to solve this crime. Although the case remains open, authorities are optimistic that with community support and assistance and continued investigations, the case can be closed will closed and give a small measure of resolution to the thousands of people affected.
Detectives from police agencies in Ashland, Medford, Central Point, and Jackson County, as well as OSP came together to investigate this criminal act. The Federal Bureau of Investigation was also consulted to provide a possible profile of who may be responsible for this crime.
Overall, 29 investigators from these various agencies, led by primary detectives from the Ashland Police Department (APD) and Jackson County Sheriff’s Office (JCSO), served nine search warrants and interviewed 154 people spanning eight counties in four different states. This effort was aided using two assigned Jackson County Assistant District Attorneys and four crime analysts. This investigation remains open and ongoing with detectives from APD and JCSO following new leads, exhausting old ones, and remaining dedicated to solving the case.
Officials say although there is nothing they can do to ensure closure for people who lost loved ones and property to this fire, they will continue working hard to provide a resolution to this case.
“We are proud of the way the community came together in the aftermath of the disaster, proving once again: WE ARE STRONGER TOGETHER” remarked JCSO officials.
If you have any information about the Almeda Fire call APD Detective Lindsey Rochon-Evertt at 541-482-5211.
Courtesy of JCSO