Astoria police are offering up to $5,000 for information that leads to an arrest in an arson investigation in Uppertown.
A series of small fires broke out in a neighborhood around 38th Street and Harrison Avenue in January, rattling residents.
The blazes were reported over a span of less than two weeks and left burn marks on three houses — one of which was burned twice — and destroyed a pickup truck.
Another fire in the same area scorched a garage that contained a motorcycle, four recycling bins and a lawnmower, though officials believe it was accidental. Police have also found another scorch mark on a fence in the area but believe it was not part of the January spate.
Soon after the investigation began, the Astoria Police Department applied for the reward money from a special fund maintained by the state fire marshal. The application was approved Monday morning.
“Basically that’s money applicable to anybody providing information leading to an arrest of the individual or individuals responsible for lighting the fires,” Police Chief Geoff Spalding said.
Numerous police agencies, Astoria fire, the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco Firearms and Explosives, the Clatsop County Fire Investigation Team, the Clatsop County District Attorney’s Office and a representative from the fire marshal’s office have been involved in the investigation. But officials have yet to find enough evidence to identify a suspect.
“We have some things that we’re looking at, but nothing substantial,” Detective Ken Hansen said. “Basically, we’re looking for the needle in the haystack. A lot of people will provide information. Somewhere in that information will be something that breaks open the case.”
Hansen, a 29-year veteran of the police department, said such a reward offer is rare in Astoria.
“Arson fires are dangerous to people and property and are very serious crimes,” he said.