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Tualatin man arrested for starting fire at Fred Meyer

Justin Allen Heldt, 41, held for arson, criminal mischief.

Justin Allen Heldt, in a booking photo provided by the Washington County Jail.A fire broke out near a loading dock at Fred Meyer in Tualatin early Sunday morning, leading to the arrest of a Tualatin man spotted near the scene for arson and criminal mischief.

Justin Allen Heldt, 41, was seen by a delivery driver fleeing the scene of the fire, according to Tualatin police, who were dispatched to the blaze at about 2:15 a.m. Police spokeswoman Jennifer Massey said officers located Heldt nearby and took him into custody without incident.

“The guy spotted him … but the guy got a good look at him, so he was able to identify him,” Massey said. “Our officers found him a short ways away, and so the witness was able to do an in-field identification of him.”

Heldt was lodged in the Washington County Jail. He was arraigned Monday on charges of second-degree arson and criminal mischief.

“From what he's saying, he was cold, so he lit a piece of paper on fire,” Massey said. “But it doesn't appear to be the case. It appears that he did more than light a piece of paper on fire that got out of control. It appears as though he was purposely burning things.”

The fire caused about $3,000 in damage, according to Tim Nokes, a spokesman for Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue. Massey said it damaged an aluminum ladder, an electric shopping cart mover, pallets, a pallet jack and plastic soda crates, as well as a Dumpster and part of the chain-link fencing in the area. The fire did not begin in the Dumpster itself, she said.

Nokes said it took firefighters about 10 minutes to extinguish the fire inside the Dumpster enclosure, which did not spread to the store itself.

“It was far away enough from the building that it did not threaten the building itself,” Nokes said.

Fire investigators are continuing to look into how the fire started.

Court records indicate Heldt previously pleaded guilty in Washington County to heroin possession on June 29, and as a result, he was sentenced to 30 days in jail and 18 months of supervised probation. Conviction for a new crime would constitute a violation of the terms of that probation.

By Mark Miller
Assistant Editor
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