Police: Shooter may have started house fire to draw in, ambush emergency responders

The scene of a house fire at 536 Oakdale Avenue in Springfield, Oct. 17, 2018. (SBG)

SPRINGFIELD, Ore. -- A man is dead after a structure fire in a Springfield neighborhood turned into an active shooter situation.

It all started around 4 a.m. Wednesday when an emergency call came in about a structure fire at 536 Oakdale Avenue, part of a densely populated residential neighborhood, Springfield Police Lt. Scott McKee said.

According to McKee, when members of Eugene Springfield Fire responded, they encountered a fully involved residential fire and began setting up apparatus, charging hoses, and getting ready to fight the fire when they suddenly came under gunfire.

"The actual fire apparatus got struck with bullets," said McKee. "They called for emergency assistance and reported they were under gunfire."

When police arrived, they too came under gunfire by a gunman who McKee said was wandering through the neighborhood close by.

The fire department evacuated the scene, leaving apparatus while the fire was still going.

"So yeah, pretty chaotic," McKee said. "Thankfully, none of our personnel were hit. None of the fire personnel were hit."

Eugene Police Department responded with an armored vehicle and assisted in evacuating some of the personnel while trying to find the shooter.

McKee said the suspect was located in the front yard of a nearby residence.

"Officers heard a shot as they were getting ready to approach him," McKee explained, "came around the corner and found that he had killed himself with his rifle."

He said at this point authorities are confident that he was acting alone. UPDATE | Police ID suspect

"We’re acting under the hypothesis that he started this fire with the intent of drawing an emergency response and then ambushing emergency responders," McKee said.

There were four homes involved in flames. It was earlier reported that two or three were complete losses.

"Really a terrible situation that could have been a heck of a lot worse," McKee said, "but thankfully, we’re at the cleanup stage right now."

Eugene Springfield Fire reported on social media that "crews are safe."

Disaster responders with the local American Red Cross responded to the scene around 5:40 a.m.

The Red Cross said the fire affected six adults and one pet.

"Red Cross provided resources to help address the immediate basic needs of those affected such as temporary housing, food, clothing, comfort kits including toiletry items, information about recovery services and health along with mental health services as needed," the Red Cross said.

DEVELOPING | Check back for updates.

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