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Published on Wednesday April 6, 2011 - 12:27 PM

 
A Maryland man was arrested by Oregon State Police Tuesday night north of Klamath Falls after a traffic stop. Police say the man dowsed himself and the inside of his car with lighter fluid then ignited himself and the car. Troopers removed the man and extinguished the fire before it caused major damage to the vehicle and to the driver.

Inside the car, troopers found about 30 lbs of marijuana.

According to Lieutenant Jason Westfall, on April 5, 2011 at 10:50 p.m. an OSP trooper stopped a rented 2011 Jeep Cherokee on Highway 97 near milepost 236 for a traffic violation. During the course of the traffic stop and contact with driver LESTER KASTEN, age 45, from Owings Mills, Maryland, the trooper developed probable cause to the search the vehicle. As the trooper approached the driver to inform him of the intent to search the vehicle, KASTEN had dowsed himself and the vehicle's interior with lighter fluid. Using a lighter in his hand, KASTEN ignited the interior of the rented vehicle.

Troopers removed KASTEN before he sustained any injury and then extinguished the fire before Chiloquin Fire Department arrived to assist. Damage to the vehicle's interior was minor.

Subsequent search led to the discovery of approximately 30 pounds of marijuana inside a suitcase in the vehicle. Estimated value of the seized marijuana is $75,000.

KASTEN was initially taken to Sky Lakes Medical Center in Klamath Falls for a medical evaluation and then lodged in the Klamath County Jail on the following charges:

  • Unlawful Possession / Distribution of a Controlled Substance - Marijuana
  • Criminal Conspiracy to Commit Unlawful Possession / Distribution of a Controlled Substance -Marijuana
  • Arson in the Second Degree
  • Tampering With Evidence
  • Criminal Mischief in the First Degree
  • Interfering With a Police Officer
  • Disorderly Conduct
The OSP Drug Enforcement Section is assisting with the investigation.

Photograph Sources: Vehicle and Marijuana - Oregon State Police Kasten - Klamath County Sheriff's Office