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Arson Suspect Arrested in Portland Garment Factory Fire

A woman suspected of starting a fire that ravaged a garment factory in Oregon’s largest city in April has been arrested.

Andrea Renee Cadle, 49, was taken into custody Wednesday on charges of second-degree arson and reckless burning after a homeless man living in a tent a block away from Portland Garment Factory told its owner that he saw Cadle emerging from an alley as flames consumed the building, according to a probable cause affidavit filed in Multnomah County Circuit Court.

The witness, “who “has known Andrea for years, but does not consider them friends,” said he recognized her clothing and gait. Cadle has been without a fixed residence for five years, court documents noted.

Some 70 firefighters, together with 25 fire engines, ladder trucks and command SUVs, arrived in the early hours of April 19 to battle the blaze, which did not spread to adjacent businesses or cause injuries, though a nearby apartment building was evacuated as a safety precaution. Investigators later posted a video showing a person wearing baggy clothes lighting a fire in a nearby dumpster.

Writing on Instagram the morning after, Portland Garment Factory, a zero-waste manufacturer that has worked with the likes of Adidas, Levi Strauss & Co., New Balance and Nike, said that its “beloved factory and hub of creativity was completely destroyed.”

The B Corp, which has raised more than $118,000 to date through a campaign on GoFundMe, says it’s working on the “next phase” of Portland Garment Factory, which received the Climate Neutral Certified seal shortly before the fire distracted it from making an announcement.

“We worked with @beclimateneutral to measure our 2020 carbon emissions, offset our entire footprint by investing in #climatechange solutions, and launch a plan to reduce our emissions this year and beyond,” Portland Garment Factory wrote on Instagram last month. “We will remain committed to mama earth as we work to reopen PGF in a new space!!”

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In its first year as a Climate Neutral Certified company, Portland Garment Factory says it is removing 15.4 metric tons of carbon dioxide by supporting biodiversity initiatives such as the Katingan Peatland Restoration and Conservation Project, the Envira Amazonia Project and the Blandin Native American Hardwoods Conservation Project. It will reduce future emissions, it said, by purchasing 100 percent renewable energy for its factory and head office, as well as advising its customers on more sustainable material options.

“Portland Garment Factory and our other Climate Neutral Certified brands are leading the global shift to a net-zero economy by doing what all companies should be doing immediately: measuring, offsetting, and reducing their carbon emissions,” Climate Neutral CEO Austin Whitman said in a statement. “Our label helps consumers identify those brands. It’s a recognizable and trusted symbol that turns everyday purchases into meaningfully positive climate action.”

The manufacturer did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Portland Garment Factory, which has been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic, had shifted to making face masks after half of its orders were canceled or put on hold last spring.

“I don’t want to be a mask maker for the rest of my life,” founder and owner Britt Howard told Sourcing Journal last year. “I want to go back to running my regular business and I want everything to be normal again. But until then I’m just going to do what’s the most helpful for the community.”