Man sentenced to time behind bars for 2019 fire that destroyed Portland business

Four years after a brush fire in Northeast Portland destroyed a business, the man who started the fire was sentenced to time behind bars.
Published: May. 22, 2023 at 6:24 PM PDT
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PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) - It’s been nearly four years since a brush fire in Northeast Portland broke out in an empty field and now the man who was accused of starting the fire was sentenced to two years in prison.

Allen Singerhouse pleaded guilty to three counts of first-degree arson for a fire he started at his camp near Northeast 85th Avenue and Siskiyou Street back in August of 2019. The wind that day blew flames south towards Northeast 84th Avenue and Russell Street. Thick black smoke could be seen all around Portland. The fire destroyed businesses, cars, and a townhouse. Singerhouse was arrested a few months later and charged with arson. He apologized for his actions in court Monday.

“My poor decisions destroyed property and put innocent lives in danger of the homeowners and the firefighters in general,” Singerhouse said. “For that, I’m truly sorry.”

But after bailing out of jail, the court and prosecutors recognized his determination to turn his life around. Prosecutors said between then and now, he broke free from his addiction to meth, got a job, and became an influential member of his local church.

“The fact that he has been out of custody for an extended period of time and has gotten himself into treatment, gotten himself sober, and now becoming a valuable member of society, we have given him a very unusual offer for a fire of this magnitude,” The prosecutor said.

Judge Christopher Ramras also acknowledged the work Singerhouse has done over the last few years to get his life back on track.

“When we first met well over a year ago, when we had the first settlement conference, my recollection even then, you we actively engaged in treatment,” Ramras said.

No victims were present in court Monday, nor did they make a statement. But FOX 12 did speak to Freddy Ryan, Manager and Trainer of Grand Avenue Boxing Club. The gym was one of the businesses destroyed in the fire. He stood in the empty lot where his business once stood, recounting the destruction of the place he used to work.

“It was gone,” Ryan said. “They started demolishing the building. It was an unsafe building. We did our best to maintain it but you know, nothing you could do.”

Ryan said even after all these years trying to rebuild the gym, he never wanted to see Singerhouse go to jail.

“We’re not looking for vengeance,” Ryan said. “We’re looking for a little bit of redemption.”

Singerhouse was sentenced to two years in prison with five years of probation. There is also a two-and-a-half-year prison sentence on hold. But that would only be activated if Singerhouse fails to maintain a job and stay sober. He is also ordered to pay more than $160,000 in restitution to the victims. But Singerhouse said he’s dedicated to keep his life on the right track.

“I believe my actions warrant more than just an apology but a living amends that I will work through and continue to do by living an active role in my community, in my recovery community, and those about my life affecting them for the greater good,” Singerhouse said.