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Men indicted following central Oregon wildfire

UPDATED: Sat., Feb. 17, 2018

A tree explodes into flames as the wind whips up the southern front of a wildfire as it burns Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017, near Sisters, Ore. (Andy Tullis / AP)
A tree explodes into flames as the wind whips up the southern front of a wildfire as it burns Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017, near Sisters, Ore. (Andy Tullis / AP)
Associated Press

BEND, Ore. – Three men will now face felony charges for starting a central Oregon wildfire by shooting at exploding targets, according to prosecutors.

Lake County District Attorney Sharon Forster told the Bend Bulletin on Friday that a grand jury indicted Elijah Dyer, Gary Bigelow and David Evans.

Authorities say the men, who are from the Eugene-Springfield area, were visiting central Oregon for a family gathering on July 8.

“All three of them were involved,” Forster said. “They added pyrotechnics to the exploding targets.”

The wildfire that followed consumed about 9 square miles and destroyed one hunting cabin and outbuilding. Forster said the amount of restitution is still being determined.

Each man is facing charges of felony manufacturing of a destructive device, felony criminal conspiracy and six counts of misdemeanor reckless burning. It’s not clear from online records if the three had attorneys.

Forster said exploding targets are legal in Oregon, but attaching fireworks and shooting at them recklessly in dry summer conditions is prohibited.

The fire scorched state and federal lands, including federally protected sage grouse habitat. Flames some 20 feet high came within 70 yards of homes in Summer Lake.

Forster reviewed an investigation by the Oregon State Police’s arson unit.

“These are hard cases to do,” Forster said. “The state police has done a phenomenal job.”

Court dates for the men to appear in Lake County Circuit Court have not yet been set.

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