Officials say it was separate case from the destructive Almeda Fire
CENTRAL POINT, Ore. (KTVZ) – A southern Oregon transient has been arrested on arson and other charges, accused of setting a fire during the battle to stop the Almeda Fire, Jackson County sheriff’s deputies said Friday.
Public Information Officer Mike Moran stressed that the case was separate from the investigation into what caused the Almeda Fire, which has burned more than 3,500 acres, destroyed some 600 homes and was 20% contained by Friday.
Michael Jarrod Bakkela, 41, was jailed on two counts of first-degree arson, 15 counts of first-degree criminal mischief and 14 counts of reckless endangering.
Jackson County 911 got a call around 5 p.m. on Tuesday from the 1100 block of Quail Lane, between Highway 99 and the railroad tracks, reporting that residents saw Bakkela lighting a fire behind their house on Quail Lane. Because of the impending fire, the witnesses had to flee their home and could not be interviewed immediately.
When deputies and Oregon State Police troopers arrived, Bakkela was standing close to a very large fire threatening several homes, Moran said. Bakkela initially was held on a probation violation on an original charge of methamphetamine possession.
The case has been referred to the Jackson County District Attorney’s Office.