Information is slim at community meeting on Bethany fires
More than 200 people attended a community meeting Wednesday night to address three suspicious fires in unfinished buildings. The fires date back to August and the most recent occurred Tuesday, Nov. 21.
While the latest blaze is still under investigation, the other two have been declared arson.
Investigators from the Washington County Sheriff's Office and Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue had little to add about the ongoing investigation.
The informational meeting drew a large crowd.
"Residents are living in fear," Praba Selva, who lives in North Bethany, said. "The kids are frightened to go to bed."
But investigators had little news to share with the audience. "What I can tell you is I'm not ready to release any names of any suspects we may be looking at," Detective Mitch Coley told the crowd at Springville Elementary School, Wednesday, Nov. 29.
Investigators provided a summary of the recent fires and the investigation in the Highlands and North Bethany neighborhood. The North Bethany neighborhood is in unincorporated Washington County, north of Beaverton and within the Beaverton School District.
Investigators discussed what steps are being taken to keep the community safe and what community members can do to help. Fire investigators have canvassed the area seeking information. Arson investigators described the recent fire as "somewhat like an archeological dig."
Earlier in the week, Sheriff's Office Public Information Officer Jeff Talbot said this week's blaze is suspicious in nature and said the Sheriff's Office has had extra patrols in the area since the August fires.
He said the homes, though nearly complete, did not have electrical fixtures or outlets, which rules out the possibility of an electrical fire.
TVF&R fire investigators are being assisted by detectives trained in arson investigation from the Washington County Sheriff's office. An arson dog from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives was brought in after the second fire.
The development site has 26 others houses still being built and neighbors said they are worried about more fires. Noyes Development is building the homes. A representative described the company is small and local, and has been in the area for about 25 years.
Reporter Mandy Feder-Sawyer and KOIN 6 News contributed to this article.