MEDFORD, Ore. (AP) — An Ashland man pleaded guilty in Jackson County Circuit Court to first-degree arson and was sentenced to four years in prison with three years of post-prison supervision.
The Mail Tribune reports Vance Phuc Nguyen, 46, set his vehicle on fire on Sept. 8, 2020 near Emigrant Lake “as the Almeda fire raged,” the Jackson County District Attorney’s Office said Thursday in a news release.
The District Attorney’s office said a fire truck on its way to assist with the Almeda fire diverted to the vehicle fire. Nguyen admitted to police that he used gasoline on the fire, which was set near homes, according to the news release.
If the vehicle fire hadn’t been extinguished as swiftly as it was, “this could have ignited a pretty good-sized wildland fire very quickly,” Greensprings Rural Fire Chief Gene Davies said in an earlier account. “It was a fully involved vehicle.”
The Almeda fire destroyed more than 2,500 homes within a 13-mile (21-kilometer) path from Ashland to a point south of Medford.