A Halfway man serving a three-year probation term for starting a Sept. 20, 2018, fire on his property that spread to adjoining land and burned an estimated 800 acres has been charged with disorderly conduct for allegedly violating the current open burning ban in Baker County.
Deputy Brian Harvey cited and released Jonathon Russell Romine, 39, on the charge this week.
Sheriff Travis Ash said the disorderly conduct charge, a Class B misdemeanor, alleges that Romine under Oregon law “created a hazardous or physically offensive condition” when he started an illegal burn on the property at milepost 59, off Highway 86 about 5 miles east of Halfway in northeastern Baker County.
The property is owned by David R. Romine of Clarkston, Washington, according to Baker County Assessor’s Office records.
Ash said Romine is charged with disorderly conduct because open burning is not allowed in Baker County due to high fire danger, a condition that exists in the region and throughout the state.
Monday’s fire created alarm among residents of the area who reported it to the Halfway and Pine Valley Rural Fire departments and the Sheriff’s Office. The agencies all sent resources to the area, Ash said.
In addition to a single-wide mobile home, which sits about 20 feet east of where the fire was set, the property is covered in garbage, other debris and lumber, said Ash said.
“The county is trying to get that cleaned up,” he said.
Romine had left the area when Sheriff’s deputies arrived at the scene Monday morning. Harvey was able to locate him later in the week to issue the citation.
In addition to the dry conditions and high fire danger, firefighting resources are limited at this time, Ash said, with some Eastern Oregon agencies sending some of their firefighters to western Oregon to respond to wildfires burning there.
“It’s been pretty well publicized that we shouldn’t be having fires right now,” Ash said.
Romine is scheduled to appear in court on Oct. 12 on a probation revocation hearing for allegedly violating terms of his three-year probation sentence that began Jan. 23, 2020, and was expected to expire on that date in 2023, according to court records.
In that case from September 2018, Romine was convicted of one count of reckless burning, felon in possession of a firearm and unlawful manufacture of a marijuana item (butane honey oil).
As a special condition of his probation, Romine stipulated that if his probation were to be revoked, he would serve a total of 38 months in prison on the charges.
Romine also faces pending charges in another case of unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, possession of a stolen vehicle, first-degree criminal mischief, felon in possession of a firearm and unlawful possession of methamphetamine, all Class C felonies. Those allegations are related to an April 19 theft of a vehicle taken from Wallowa County and later recovered at the Romine property on Highway 86 near Halfway.
Romine also is scheduled to appear in court on those charges on Oct. 12.