Two men who authorities say used a chainsaw to carve out large chunks of wood from the cedar base of a bridge in Jefferson County, Washington, were arrested last Friday on felony charges.
Officials said they suspect the two planned to sell the wood on the black market.
Troy Crandall and Jose Salinas were booked into Jefferson County jail after a pair of hunters in the area heard chainsaw noises and contacted the Washington State Department of Natural Resources.
“Officer Allen Nelson was already in the area and discovered two people cutting chunks out of the cedar logs that form the base of a bridge,” the department said in a tweet Thursday. “The cedar chunks would be sold on the black market for mill owners to turn them into shake and shingles.”
While the men did not tell authorities that they intended to sell the wood, Washington State Department of Natural Resources spokesperson Kenny Ocker said it was evident based on the type of wood and the way they were cutting it.
“That beam of that bridge is western red cedar, and there are mills in that general area that use tons of cedar that size,” he said.
The area had been behind a locked gate, but the men purportedly broke the lock to gain access to it, authorities said.
Ocker said his agency has done an initial inspection of the bridge but is keeping it closed while it works to determine what needs to be done to ensure it’s safe.
“This is incredibly dangerous for our staff who work in the woods, as well as members of the public,” the department said in a tweet.
The incident in Jefferson County, which is west of Seattle, is not the first arrest of its kind, Ocker said.
“It happens enough that this isn’t the first time,” he said. But, he added: “It’s not like we’re out once a week finding people underneath bridges with chainsaws, either.”