Investigators determined that the fire was set intentionally, identifying the suspect as 51-year-old Wendy Kay Southam of Portland.
PORTLAND, Ore. — Deputies have arrested a woman in connection with a fire that broke out at an apartment building west of Portland in the early hours of Saturday morning, according to the Washington County Sheriff’s Office.
Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue reported in the aftermath of the fire that eight people were hurt and dozens displaced.
Around 3 a.m., multiple callers reported seeing flames coming from a building on Southwest Barnes Road, part of the 81 Fifty at West Hills complex. Deputies from the Washington County Sheriff’s Office were first to arrive at the scene, TVF&R said, and they helped evacuate residents of the apartment building.
As firefighters arrived, they saw flames coming from the windows, roof and stairwell of the building. Crews began putting water on the fire as some firefighters went inside, ultimately rescuing seven people and multiple pets who were trying to escape the smoke and flames, TVF&R said.
As the firefight continued, officials called for a second alarm, bringing in three units from Portland Fire & Rescue.
Ultimately, eight people were taken to the hospital with fire-related injuries. Some were hurt when they jumped from the second floor of the building to escape, TVF&R said, while others were suffering from smoke inhalation or burns. A firefighter was treated for heat exhaustion.
Multiple units inside of the apartment building were heavily damaged, resulting in the displacement of about two dozen people. TVF&R said it was working with the sheriff’s office and apartment managers to arrange shelter for the residents.
On Saturday, investigators from both the fire agency and sheriff’s office were still working to determine the cause of the fire. But by Wednesday, WCSO reported that a woman had been taken into custody, accused of arson.
The investigators determined that the fire was set intentionally, identifying the suspect as 51-year-old Wendy Kay Southam of Portland. She was booked into the Washington County Jail on charges of first-degree arson, second-degree animal abuse, second-degree assault and first-degree criminal mischief.
The sheriff’s office said that the investigation is still ongoing and anyone with more information about the fire is asked to contact WCSO detectives at 503-846-2700.