Man accused of arson in connection with Alameda Fire in Southern Oregon


Michael Jarod Bakela was charged with two arson charges.

A man accused of setting a fire earlier this week in southern Oregon was arrested on Friday for arson, while the area already had an Alameda fire.

Michael Jarrod Bakela, 41, was charged with two counts of arson as well as 15 counts of criminal misrule and 14 counts of reckless endangerment.

Police said that on Tuesday, residents called 911 to see the fire burning behind their home in Phoenix at 5 pm local time. The witness’s office said that the witnesses had fled their house due to the fire.

When Oregon State Police troopers and Jackson County Sheriff’s Office personnel arrived, Bakela “stood close to a very large fire that threatened several homes,” the sheriff’s office alleged.

Police said the fire eventually merged into the Almada Fire, which began about six hours earlier in Phoenix.

Jackson County Sheriff’s Office public information officer Mike Moran told ABC News that there is “significant damage” that police are responsible for allegedly setting fire to Bakela.

“There are many houses, many of which have been completely gutted, some have been very damaged, which is one of the 15 cases of criminal misrule,” Moran said.

Bakela was initially arrested on Tuesday for probation violation on an original charge of unlawful possession of methamphetamine. He was charged in connection with the Alameda Fire on Friday afternoon. He is currently booked in the Jackson County Jail and is likely to be produced on Monday.

Police said the case has been referred to the Jackson County District Attorney’s Office and the charges can be modified.

Authorities are also conducting a separate criminal investigation into the early origins of the Alameda Fire. Police said Friday that a man was found dead about a mile from that point of origin in North Ashland.

A second death has also been announced in connection with the Alameda Fire, which has burned over 5,700 acres and destroyed 700 structures.

On Friday, the FBI released a statement addressing rumors circulating on social media that “extremists” were starting the fire.

The agency said in a statement, “The FBI has received reports from Portland and local law enforcement agencies that extremists are responsible for wildfires in Oregon. Along with our state and local partners, the FBI investigated several such reports and Found them to be untrue. ” . “Conspiracy theories and misinformation take away local resources and police agencies working around fires control these fires. Please help our entire community by sharing valid information from official sources.”

ABC News’ Jenna Harrison and Matt Jarman contributed to this report.

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