Citizens arrest made in alleged arson

·3 min read

Jul. 26—A trio of good Samaritans detained a suspected arsonist Monday afternoon by tying him to a tree near the remote spot on the map known as Marial.

According to Curry County Sheriff John Ward, 31-year-old Trennon Smith was apprehended by three residents who live in the area, which lies along the lower Rogue River, on the edge of the Wild Rogue Wilderness, near the historic Rogue River Ranch, Blossom Bar and Mule Creek Canyon.

The normally placid area became the scene of an intense emergency response Monday when the Oregon Department of Forestry, Bureau of Land Management and other agencies responded to a confirmed report of a fire burning in heavy timber.

About that time, the three residents saw Smith — who matched the description of the alleged fire-starter — walking along the roadway and made a citizens arrest.

Ward said the Curry County Sheriff's Office received a call just before 2 p.m. Monday from the U.S. Forest Service office in Medford, reporting active fires near or at Rogue River Ranch and Marial Lodge.

Both locations are tucked into the far northeast portion of Curry County, accessible only by river or Forest Service and BLM goat paths sometimes referred to as "roads." Law enforcement from Curry, Josephine and Douglas counties often work together in the area.

Information about the fires and Smith's description were "relayed by radio from a BLM employee who was in the area of the fires and had reported seeing a white male adult along the gravel road that leads to Marial Lodge and Rogue River Ranch, starting fires," according to a news advisory from the Curry County Sheriff's Office.

Curry County dispatchers notified Coos Forest Patrol, BLM, the Forest Service, Josephine County Sheriff's Office, Douglas County Sheriff's Office and Oregon Department of Forestry Southwest Oregon District, asking for assistance extinguishing the fires and locating the suspect.

A witness on scene identified two separate fires. Three helicopters — Type 2 and Type 3 — were dispatched by ODF, while ground crews, including residents of the area, quickly got the two fires under control and contained at about a tenth of an acre. Other resources, including engine crews, a water tender and a bulldozer, also were sent to the scene.

The sheriff's office reported that Smith "became very combative with the three residents and had to be tied to a tree to subdue him. An ambulance crew was asked to respond due to some injuries that the suspect apparently received from falling down."

BLM law enforcement transported Smith to Three Rivers Hospital in Grants Pass and later to the Curry County Jail.

Smith was lodged on two counts of first-degree arson and reckless burning. He also was lodged on a detention warrant out of Lane County for violating his probation.

Smith has an arrest record dating to 2011, with convictions, beginning in 2016, that include possession of methamphetamine, first-degree burglary, third-degree robbery and first-degree animal abuse, among other charges.

Reach reporter Buffy Pollock at 541-776-8784 or Follow her on Twitter @orwritergal.