FBI, local law enforcement debunks rumors claiming Antifa responsible for Oregon fires

Local law enforcement officials and the FBI say that rumors of Antifa extremists starting the fires devastating Oregon communities are false.  

“FBI Portland and local law enforcement agencies have been receiving reports that extremists are responsible for setting wildfires in Oregon. With our state and local partners, the FBI has investigated several such reports and found them to be untrue,” said special agent in charge Loren Cannon of the FBI’s Portland division. “Conspiracy theories and misinformation take valuable resources away local fire and police agencies working around the clock to bring these fires under control. Please help our entire community by only sharing validated information from official sources.”

The Oregonian reported that rumors of six members of Antifa were arrested for setting fires in Douglas County are untrue. The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office posted a message refuting the rumor on Thursday morning.

“Rumors spread just like wildfire and now our dispatchers and professional staff are being overrun with requests for information and inquiries on an UNTRUE rumor that Antifa members have been arrest for setting fires in Douglas County, Oregon,” the posted stated. “THIS IS NOT TRUE!”

Ashland Police Chief Tighe O’Meara said the cause of the Almeda Fire in southern Oregon is under criminal investigation, but told the Oregonian that the investigation does not involve Antifa.

“We have some leads, and none of it point in that direction,” O’Meara told the newspaper.

KPTV reported that one suspect, a 44-year-old man from Mapleton, was arrested on Sept. 1 on arson charges in connection to the Sweet Creek Fires outside of Mapleton. No details on his motives were provided.

FEMA announced federal aid available to Oregon

WASHINGTON — FEMA announced that federal emergency aid has been made available to the state of Oregon to supplement state, tribal and local response efforts to the emergency conditions in the area affected by wildfires beginning on Sept. 8, and continuing. 

President Donald Trump approved Oregon’s disaster declaration, making FEMA assistance available.

The President's action authorizes FEMA to coordinate all disaster relief efforts which have the purpose of alleviating the hardship and suffering caused by the emergency on the local population, and to provide appropriate assistance for required emergency measures, authorized under Title V of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, to save lives, to protect property, public health and safety, and to lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe.  

Specifically, FEMA is authorized to identify, mobilize, and provide at its discretion, equipment and resources necessary to alleviate the impacts of the emergency.  Emergency protective measures (Category B), including direct federal assistance under the Public Assistance program, will be provided at 75 percent federal funding. This assistance is for Clackamas, Douglas, Jackson, Jefferson, Klamath, Lane, Lincoln, Linn, Marion, Tillamook, and Washington counties.

Dolph A. Diemont has been named as the Federal Coordinating Officer for federal response operations in the affected area.  

Chemeketa in Salem serves are incident command for Santiam Fire

 Salem— Chemeketa Community College is serving the Northwest Incident Management Team #13 as an Incident Command Post and staging base for the Santiam Fire. 

 Hundreds of firefighters are using the college facilities to plan strategies for attack, bring in equipment, or rest after grueling shifts. 

Fire departments from all over Oregon as well as the Oregon State Fire Marshall have joined forces to battle the blaze.

 “Chemeketa is very grateful to all the firefighters serving on the front lines with the nearby blazes in Oregon,” said Jessica Howard, President of Chemeketa Community College. “We are very privileged to host these first responders, a number of whom are Chemeketa fire science graduates, in our role as a staging site. Our heart is with our community members who have been impacted by the wildfires.”

 Chemeketa’s Emergency and Risk Manager, John McIlvain, is working closely with incident commanders to ensure fire personnel have everything they need. Sleeping and resting tents have been assembled and placed in the athletic fields, and access to buildings and facilities has been provided to emergency personnel. 

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