Sweet Creek arsonist pleads guilty

44-year-old Elias Newton Pendergrass of Mapleton was arrested for first-degree arson in connection with the Sweet Creek Fires. (Lane County Sheriff's Office booking photo)

Man who started fire near Mapleton sentenced to 10 years in prison

Oct. 24, 2020 — A Mapleton resident, 44-year old Elias Newton Pendergrass, pled guilty in the Lane County Circuit Court to arson in the first degree for starting the blaze which burned hundreds of acres of land near Mapleton last August, forcing a short evacuation of residents impacted by the blaze.

Pendergrass was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Lane County Deputy District Attorney Spencer Gwartney said Pendergrass must also complete three years of post-prison supervision after his release and will have to pay restitution, with the amount to be determined in the next six months.

The Sweet Creek Fire temporarily closed a section of Highway 126 and other roads and caused the suspension of activities along the Siuslaw River at the end of August. The fire ultimately burned 350 acres of private property in addition to land owned by the Bureau of Land Management.