Arsonist blamed for multiple Centennial fires

Officials have arrested a woman suspected of setting 10 suspicious fires in outer East Portland; why she allegedly lit them is unclear …

In the Centennial neighborhood, Portland Fire & Rescue crews are kept busy one early morning, putting out one fire after another.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

Fires broke out, one after another, throughout the Centennial neighborhood, around SE 160th and 161st Avenues, from SE Alder to Stark, and north to East Burnside Street, in the early morning hours of Sunday, October 18.

Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) crews arrived to put out ten suspicious fires in that area between 1:40 until 4:15 a.m.

Responding from fire to fire, crews doused fires that could have flared into life-threatening blazes.

According to PF&R spokesperson Lt. Jason Andersen, the blazes involved:

  • A car fire that spread to a carport, and threatened a residence;
  • Two additional structure fires;
  • An additional car fire;
  • A fire involving a homeless camp;
  • Two dumpster fires at an apartment complex;
  • Two garbage bin fires; and,
  • A mailbox fire.

“There were no injuries associated with any of the fires,” commented Andersen. “Portland Police Bureau (PPB) officers, who were in the area, also investigating these suspicious fires, extinguishing two of them with fire extinguishers carried in their patrol vehicles – and they eventually arrested a female adult suspect in the area of SE 147th Avenue and E. Burnside Street.”

Arrested was 26-year-old Sierra Nicole Murdock, who was booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center (MCDC) at 5:57 a.m. that morning, initially on the non-arson related charges of Interfering with a Peace Officer, and Resisting Arrest.

“By 12:30 p.m. that day, after continued investigation by PPB and PF&R’s Investigations Unit, Murdock was also charged with two counts of Arson I,” Andersen revealed.

Facing three Felony “Arson 1” charges is 26-year-old Sierra Nicole Murdock. MCDC booking photo

At Murdock’s arraignment, an additional charge of Arson in the First Degree was introduced, making a total of three felony counts.

Initially, the combined bail amounts for the charges against Murdock totaled $775,000, but a judge then dropped the bail fee for all but one of the Felony charges, Arson in the First Degree, leaving her bail still set at $250,000. In lieu of bail, Murdock is currently lodged at MCDC, where she’s also being held for Parole Violation charge.

PPB detectives and PF&R Investigations Unit are asking any witnesses to these fires, or members of the public with any information on these fires, to contact them at 503-823-INFO.

© 2020 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News™



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