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Arson arrest after 2 cars burn at Bend dealership


(Update: More details from police)

A Bend transient was arrested early Friday morning on arson, reckless burning and other charges, accused of setting fire to a utility terrain vehicle in a car dealership’s parking lot, sparking a fire that destroyed that and another vehicles and damaged a third.

Police officers and fire crews were dispatched shortly before 12:30 a.m. to Kendal Toyota of Bend on South Highway 97 on a report of a vehicle on fire in the fenced parking lot of the business, near Parrell Road, Corporal James Kinsella said.

They arrived to find a 2007 Polaris Ranger UTV (side-by-side vehicle) owned by Kendall Toyota engulfed in flames, Kinsella said.

Firefighters extinguished the fire, but not before a 2015 Toyota Camry, which was in for service, and a 2016 Toyota 4Runner owned by the dealership were damaged by the fire and heat. Kinsella said the total damage estimate topped $60,000.

Officers found a transient, later identified as Michael Neal Gaskill, 50, in another vehicle parked in the dealer’s lot, KInsella said.

An investigation found that Gaskill earlier had tried to start a small warming fire in another area of the parking lot. Kinsella said Gaskill initially denied lighting the UTV on fire, but physical evidence found on the scene linked him to both fires.

Gaskill was booked into the Deschutes County Jail on charges of second-degree arson, reckless burning, first-degree criminal mischief, two counts of unlawful entry into a motor vehicle and methamphetamine possession. His bail totaled $40,000.

Last month, Gaskill was cited on a violation, second-degree attempted criminal trespass, for illegally “entering or remaining on a real estate lot” on Murphy Road near the Bend Parkway, court records showed. He failed to appear in court, was convicted and was fined $100.

In early 2015, he was arrested on felony charges of meth possession and delivery. He pleaded guilty to the possession charge, with the delivery charge dismissed, and was sentenced to 18 months probation and a substance abuse program.

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