ARSON! Montavilla auto repair shop cars torched

Find out why officials are saying the fire that damaged four vehicles was not an accident …

Fast-responding Portland Fire & Rescue firefighters keep a blazing vehicle from igniting a vehicle repair shop in Montavilla.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
There’s not much after-hours activity along SE Stark Street near SE 88th Avenue.

But, a vehicle erupting in flames on the lot of Sharp Automotive at 8804 SE Stark Street did catch the attention on of passers-by on August 28.

Portland Fire & Rescue District 3 Battalion Chief Craig Funk tells reporters that a car was burning; and it was about to set three more vehicles ablaze.

After putting out the blaze, Portland Fire & Rescue District 3 Battalion Chief Craig Funk told East Portland News that the call came in at 9:11 p.m. “We had a report of multiple cars is burning in front of this auto shop. From the distance, crews initially couldn’t determine if the fire was impinging of the building or not.”

Taking no chances, some firefighters laid in a water line from the hydrant, while other crew members started pumping water from Engine 11, Funk said.

After the fire is extinguished, this vehicle appears to have sustained extensive damage.

“Ultimately, it ended up that we isolated one vehicle on fire, and three others that were damaged by the heat and smoke,” he added. “An investigator is on scene.”

From witness reports, getting into the fenced lot was easy – firefighters discovered the gate had been broken open before they arrived.

Police arrested this man, 31-year-old Dustin Eugene Hall, and have charged him with arson. MCDC booking photo

According to Multnomah County Detention Center records, at 4:19 a.m. the next morning, police had arrested 31-year-old Dustin Eugene Hall. He was taken into custody on four counts each of second-degree arson and first-degree criminal mischief, and one count of fourth-degree assault.

Hall reportedly backed a vehicle through the gate, then started the vehicle fire.

A fire investigator and firefighters look at the burned vehicles, after the fire.

One vehicle was estimated to have $11,000 in damage, according to Portland Fire & Rescue Public Information Officer Ron Rouse; the others sustained $5,000 in damage.

The reason that the suspect, Hall, might have had to set the fire remains unclear. But, at this writing, he remains lodged in Multnomah County Inverness Jail in lieu of combined bail set at $42,500.

© 2012 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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