Woman suspected of reckless burning

(Courtesy Julian Cordle)

Medford Police have arrested a woman in connection with two small grass fires on the Bear Creek Greenway Monday afternoon.

Julian Cordle told News 10 that he was riding his bike along the greenway when he came across a woman running in plain clothes, located a small fire and called 911-dispatch.

"I saw an older lady not in athletic clothes running in jeans and a t-shirt and it just didn't look right," Julian Cordle said. "Sure enough 15 seconds later or so I came around a tree and I looked over and there was a fire right by the tree."

Cordle says he called 911 (around 2:30 p.m.) and another cyclist came up to help 'stomp' on the fire to keep it down. Cordle says the other cyclist splashed some water on it.

"Right as I was telling the dispatcher, 'I think we're okay but we should have somebody come look,' I look behind me and there's more smoke coming back from where I came from," Cordle described as he and another passing cyclist went to help keep the second small fire down. "We just held it back and tried to keep it away from I-5 and then Medford Fire showed up and got to work on it pretty quickly but I asked them 'hey did you see a lady in the black shirt and black pants' and they said 'yeah, that's her'."

Cordle says Medford Police had the woman in custody. She was later identified as Debra Irene Johns.

Police confirmed that Debra Irene Johns was arrested in connection to the small fires. Johns is charged with reckless burning. She is now lodged in the Jackson County Jail.

"It's just one of those things that you don't think about, when you realize there's something going on and there's no one else around, it's gotta be you so you've gotta do something about it." Cordle told News 10. "I didn't really think about 'should I do something' it was like 'someones got to do something' so I hopped off and it was good timing with the other cyclist who was nearby and saw me working on it so we were working on it."

Johns has a criminal record that dates back to 2004. In July of 2014, she was arrested in connection with a streak of arson fires in Jackson County. Beyond that, the Mail Tribune has reported that court records show prior convictions for methamphetamine possession, unlawful entry into a motor vehicle and second-degree assault.

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