Fire officials believe arson is the cause of three wildfires east of La Pine, including the largest fire to burn in Central Oregon so far this year.
U.S. Forest Service law enforcement officers continue to investigate the string of suspicious fires that started earlier this month.
The first was the Paulina Lake Fire, which started at 1 p.m. July 5 near U.S. Highway 97 and Forest Road 21, about 6 miles northeast of La Pine. It was contained to 48 acres.
On July 8, the Finely Fire started at 2:30 p.m. near Darlene Way and Finley Butte Road, about 2 miles east of La Pine. It was contained at 45 acres.
Then on July 18, the Rosland Road Fire started at about 2 p.m. near the Newberry Estates subdivision, 4 miles northeast of La Pine. It was contained at 393 acres, the most acres burned in a fire this year.
Officials are asking the public for any information or tips that could help in the investigations.
“It’s very disturbing that someone would choose to do this, and that is why we are definitely seeking the public’s help so we can catch and prosecute this person,” said Jean Nelson-Dean, Deschutes National Forest spokesperson.
Those responsible for each wildfire will be liable for firefighting costs and will face criminal charges.