Man charged with arson for 3-alarm fire in EP

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A historic two-story structure at the corner of So. Royal and Old Hwy. 62, owned by Ed Dahack, burned to the ground Tuesday, Aug. 18.

The fire was reported at about 7 p.m. It became a two-alarm fire and then a three-alarm fire, taking about two hours to get under control, said Fire District No. 3 Assistant Fire Marshal Don Hickman. “We used agencies from throughout the valley to help suppress this fire.”

There was a large accumulation of items both inside and outside the structure. Two people rented the second floor. They escaped uninjured and were given temporary shelter by the Red Cross.

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The house was constructed about 1935 by Ed Dahack’s father, Ernest. The right side of the two story structure was originally used as a barbershop with a tavern and small dance hall on the left. The family lived on the second floor. A good number of older men in Eagle Point still tell stories about going to the Dahack Barbershop.

Eagle Point Police Detective Jim Gray was called to the scene about 10 minutes after the call came in and worked nearly around the clock on the case until about 6:16 Thursday night when the word came that Det. Gray was on his way to the Jackson County Jail with Justin William Keaton. He was charged with Arson in the 1st degree. It is a Class A felony and could mean up to 20 years in prison. Gray said there are potentially other charges. The case was turned over to the district attorney’s office Friday.

Gray began his investigation by talking to witnesses, which can lead to other contacts. While the rumor mill had been working overtime, police had to have sufficient evidence before making an arrest and/or filing charges. About mid-day Thursday, there was sufficient evidence and then Gray received a tip which ended in the arrest of Keaton at a residence in White City.

“This was a collaborative effort between Fire District 3 who processed the physical scene and Eagle Point Police who did the interviews,” said Hickman. “It was a joint effort ,” said Hickman. He said the last big arson case for Fire District 3 was about five years ago in Central Point.

The five member fire investigation team from Fire District 3 spent seven hours going over the sight on Wednesday.

“When you have two agencies who are cooperative with similar interests, it makes for a smooth transition,” said the assistant fire marshal.

By Nancy Leonard
Of the Independent

 

 

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