Wire thief starts house fire

Wire thief starts house fire »Play Video

EUGENE, Ore. -- Firefighters were called to an early morning basement fire on 15th Avenue and Mill Street Monday.

After the flamers were out, authorities discovered evidence of another crime: wire theft.

Eugene police said someone was stealing alumnimum and copper wire from the home and started the fire in the process.

Officer Sean Hughes said thieves will burn the insulation off the wire. 

"Typically burning is a quicker way of stripping the insulation off," he said.

In this case, the suspect used a road flare to burn the wire. 

Witnesses saw a white male in his 30s, wearing a green sweatshirt and sweatpants, leave the home around the time of the fire.

Another man was also seeing leaving the house during the fire. 

A Springfield Police K9 found him in the backyard.  Officers arrested him on trespassing charges.  He is not believed to be involved in the fire.

Police and fire authorities say wire theft is becoming more common. 

Thieves break into abandonded buildings and steal wire from inside the walls or anywhere else they can find it, then set fire to get the insulation off. 

"They do it outside, they probably do it anywhere they can," said Huges.  "Typically doing it inside is pretty bad for you, given all the chemicals and everything else that come out in the smoke.  Most people have the common sense to not do it indoors.  Then they wouldn't have the house catch fire."

Now Avery Boyle is left cleaning up -- again.

"This is the third time in two weeks" homeless people have trespassed, Boyle said. 

Six months ago, a separate fire destroyed the first story of the Boyle family home and forced them to move out.

Since then, Boyle says the empty house has been a magnet for trouble. 

Homeless people and teenagers have broken in, someone ripped wires off the outside of the home and now this.

"Great grandfather has owned it since 1950 something," said Boyle.  "Kinda the pride and joy.  We love this house."