Investigation underway after fire damages equipment at future homeless shelter site

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A City of Portland-owned forklift, an excavator and a bulldozer were damaged in an act of arson earlier this month at the site of a future temporary shelter site for the homeless, authorities announced Monday.

Portland police said Portland Fire & Rescue firefighters were called to the scene on North Portland Road just before 3:30 a.m. on Sunday, Jan. 7 for a report of a fire at a city-owned property in the St. Johns neighborhood. Mayor Ted Wheeler’s office confirmed to KOIN 6 News the property is the future site for a temporary homeless shelter, which was announced in October 2023.

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Investigators say the arson, which was first reported by The Oregonian/OregonLive on Sunday, “caused tens of thousands of dollars worth of damage” to the equipment.

“This event has not impacted the development of the property for a Temporary Alternative Shelter Site,” a spokesperson told KOIN 6 News in an email. “The Mayor’s team has continued holding neighborhood meetings and moving the process forward.”

Photos of the damage and a surveillance camera still of at least one suspect were released by authorities.

  • Portland police say city-owned construction equipment was damaged in an arson in North Portland on Jan. 7, 2024. (Credit: Portland Police Bureau)
    Portland police say city-owned construction equipment was damaged in an arson in North Portland on Jan. 7, 2024. (Credit: Portland Police Bureau)
  • Portland police say city-owned construction equipment was damaged in an arson in North Portland on Jan. 7, 2024. (Credit: Portland Police Bureau)
    Portland police say city-owned construction equipment was damaged in an arson in North Portland on Jan. 7, 2024. (Credit: Portland Police Bureau)
  • Investigators released this surveillance image shot of a potential suspect in the arson at a city-owned property in St. Johns on Jan. 7, 2024 (Credit: PPB)
    Investigators released this surveillance image shot of a potential suspect in the arson at a city-owned property in St. Johns on Jan. 7, 2024 (Credit: PPB)
  • Investigators released this surveillance image shot of a potential suspect in the arson at a city-owned property in St. Johns on Jan. 7, 2024 (Credit: PPB)
    Investigators released this surveillance image shot of a potential suspect in the arson at a city-owned property in St. Johns on Jan. 7, 2024 (Credit: PPB)

Anyone with any information about the fire investigation is asked to reach out to Portland police and PF&R’s Fire Investigation Unit.

The investigation is ongoing.

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