Suspect Arrested for Reckless Burning on N. Elk Camden Road
Spokane County Sheriff’s Deputies, working emphasis patrols in the Oregon Fire area, were advised by an alert citizen of a large bonfire on N. Elk Camden Road. The male suspect was actively putting wood on the already large fire despite the countywide burn restrictions enacted on June 30, 2023, and the devastating Oregon Road and Gray Fires. The male, who was not receptive to the information regarding open burning and argumentative, was arrested for Reckless Burning 2nd Degree, a gross misdemeanor.
On August 25, 2023, at approximately 8:40 pm, Spokane County Sheriff’s Deputies, working emphasis patrols in and around the Oregon Road Fire, received information from a citizen reporting a large bonfire in the 40100 block of N. Elk Camden Road. Spokane Regional Emergency Communications (SREC) Dispatchers also obtained a call for service regarding the fire.
Deputies responded and contacted a male, later identified as 40-year-old Michael J. Reid, as he placed wood on the fire. The fire was approximately 4’ in height, and embers were emitting from the flames, falling to the ground where vegetation near the fire showed signs of being burnt.
Reid was advised of the countywide burn restrictions and reminded of the massive Oregon Fire that is still burning and has devastated the area and community.
When asked for his identification, Reid immediately protested, stating he didn’t have to show his ID and that the fire was on his own property. Reid was asked to sit on the front bumper of the patrol car, and he again argued with the Deputy. As additional Deputies arrived, he was told to sit on the bumper. Reid complied at first and then attempted to get up, so he was detained due to his argumentative and unpredictable behavior.
After a closer check of the fire, it appeared Reid was burning railroad ties soaked in oil. An open plastic juice bottle containing gasoline sat on the ground approximately 5’ from the fire.
Deputies attempted to extinguish the fire with an issued fire extinguisher, but it had little effect. A shovel was used to smother the fire with surrounding dirt to put it out. Reid repeatedly stated he started the fire and was unaware of the countywide burn restrictions.
It was noted that numerous dried weeds and vegetation, approximately 3’ tall, were around the firepit. The general area is heavily populated, including a restaurant, multiple homes, and other structures. No immediate water source or other means was observed to put the fire out if needed quickly.
Since August 18, 2023, when the Oregon Fire began, the area was considered a Level 3 evacuation zone and then a Level 1 evacuation zone until yesterday evening, when the zones were downgraded again. The Oregon Road Fire has burned more than an estimated 10,800 acres, and numerous homes/structures have been lost, causing immense hardship and devastation to the people/families living in the area. The area has had multiple road closures and been saturated with firefighting equipment, personnel, law enforcement, and had a large amount of media coverage since the fire began. All of this makes it almost inconceivable a reasonable person would not have known an open fire like this would present a considerable danger to the surrounding community.
Reid was arrested for Reckless/Unlawful Burning, a gross misdemeanor, and transported to the Spokane County Jail, where he was administratively booked and released on his own recognizance.
PLEASE, no open burning. Respect the countywide burn restrictions, especially with local Red Flag Fire Warnings in effect for portions of our local area.
Reckless burning in the second degree.
(1) A person is guilty of reckless burning in the second degree if he or she knowingly causes a fire or explosion, whether on his or her own property or that of another, and thereby recklessly places a building or other structure, or any vehicle, railway car, aircraft, or watercraft, or any hay, grain, crop or timber, whether cut or standing, in danger of destruction or damage.
(2) Reckless burning in the second degree is a gross misdemeanor.