Selma, Ore. — The Oregon State Police Arson Unit has formally charged a transient for causing the 50 acre grass fire in Selma, that destroyed three homes and five outbuildings.
Police arrested Marcus Yeoman, 35, on an unrelated warrant on Friday night, hours after the blaze was started. Following an investigation, they determined Yeoman had started a campfire in the area, sparking the Redwood Highway fire.
He was taken to the Josephine County Jail, and lodged on the warrant. Police later cited him for reckless burning.
The fire was called in around 3:45 PM on Friday afternoon, across the Selma Rays Food Place on Redwood Highway. At that time, crews say it was about an acre in size.
“Within 10 minutes, it quickly spotted out several times,” Melissa Cano said, a spokesperson for the Oregon Department of Forestry. “It grew to five to 10 acres in size.”
Cano said within half an hour, the blaze spread even more.
“It jumped the highway, and at that point, we were saying over 25 [acres],” Cano said.
Ray Puckett drove through the area just as the fire was starting.
“They closed the road right after we came through,” Puckett said. “We saw smoke, coming from CJ back to town, and as we got closer, we saw where it was coming from, out here across from Rays.”
Numerous agencies responded, and resources were called in, as the fire spread to Deer Creek road. Cano said evacuations were quick to follow.
“It was a really stressful and emotional time, trying to evacuate everyone because it all happened so quickly,” Cano said.
Three homes and five outbuildings were destroyed in the fire, including Ryon Tucker’s family home on Deer Creek road. The house withstood the test of time for nearly 90 years before burning to the ground on Friday night.
“This house was a homestead for six generations,” Tucker said. “This was my grandma’s house.”
A Go Fund Me account has been set up for the family. To learn more, click here.
Helicopters dropped retardant on the affected neighborhood, and bulldozers were brought in. Crews will continue to monitor the area, and ensure that flames don’t reignite.
“Everyone’s kind of on alert and on standby, ready for the worst, but we’re hoping for the best,” Cano said.