MITCHELL, OR – (Press Release from Wheeler County Sheriff Mike Smith)
On Saturday, September 12th, 2021, Deputies from the Wheeler County Sheriff’s Office were dispatched to a report of a possible suicidal subject in Mitchell, OR. The caller was reporting this from outside the state and did not know the exact address. The caller had reported they had received a text message from a relative indicating they were going to commit suicide. The caller also advised the individual had a handgun. Responding Deputies were familiar with the individual and the address was later found to be in the 200 block of Nelson St, Mitchell, OR.
Upon arrival, the first deputy discovered the inside of the residence was on fire. The deputy tried to enter the residence and found the front door was barricaded shut from the inside and he was unable to force entry. The fire was growing rapidly so Mitchell Fire Department was requested to respond.
As the residence continued burning it caused power lines to come down. This caused a delay for the fire department as these wires were still hot and caused a substantial hazard. Columbia Basin Power was contacted, and they sent a crew out to cut the power to the residence.
Additional police and fire units responded to the scene. Oregon State Police (OSP) sent personnel from John Day as well as La Pine, OR, and an OSP Arson investigator responded to the scene. Grant County Sheriff Todd McKinley and one of his Deputies also responded to assist as well as the Wheeler County District Attorney, Gretchen Ladd. Local area ranchers assisted including the Antone Ranch who brought additional water to assist fire units. Spray Ambulance, Wheeler County Fire and Rescue, ODFW, Crook County Fire also responded and assisted with the fire.
After the fire was under control, a single body was located inside the residence. Identification is under investigation and notification will be made to the family when identification is confirmed.
In total, two residences and a detached garage were destroyed by the fire. Also, a camper on the property received some fire damage.
This investigation is ongoing by the Wheeler County Sheriff’s Office, Oregon State Police and the State Fire Marshal.