HERMISTON- Hermiston Police Chief Dan Coulombe activated the Umatilla County Major Crimes Team this week to provide assistance in the investigation into a Feb. 28 arson at the Hermiston courthouse.

According to Umatilla County District Attorney Chris Brauer, the investigation has moved into its second phase, the focus of which is the identification and apprehension of the responsible individuals.

Brauer said the investigation into the cause of the fire is "essentially complete."

He added that because of the nature of the business conducted at the courthouse, the list of potential suspects "is literally dozens of pages long."

"The Major Crimes Team brings the manpower and expertise necessary in the investigation of such a serious crime against the public," Brauer said.

This week, the Hermiston Circuit Court began to hold hearings at its new temporary location at 295 E. Main St., where some limited matters were heard. That's in the same block as the building that was torched.

Although work on the new facility is ongoing, the essential phones, computers, personnel and security officers are in place and all of this week's hearings have gone smoothly, Brauer said.

A reward of up to $5,000 has been offered by the Zurich Insurance Company for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the fire.

The Major Crimes Team is made up of personnel from the Hermiston and Pendleton police departments, the Umatilla County Sheriff's Office, Oregon State Police and the Umatilla County District Attorney's office.

Anyone with information about this case is asked to contact the Hermiston Police Department.

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