Michael Jarrod Bakkela, 41, is accused of starting the Almeda Fire, said the Oregon State Fire Marshal’s Office, reported OregonLive. Bakkela was arrested on two counts of arson, 15 counts of criminal mischief, and 14 counts of reckless endangerment, officials said.
A witness in Phoenix, Oregon, said they saw a person who was later identified as Bakkela lighting a fire behind their house on Quail Lane. Residents were forced to flee their homes after seeing him allegedly set the fire.
According to the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office in a statement, police arrived to find that “Bakkela was standing close to a very large fire threatening several homes.”
They also found that Bakkela was lodged on a probation violation detainer for possession of methamphetamine of more than two ounces.
Local reports said that the Almeda Fire has destroyed hundreds of homes and left at least two people dead.
Authorities arrested two people in connection to fires in Washington state, identifying one as Jeffrey Alan Acord, who is accused of starting a fire along Highway 167. Officials said that he live-streamed himself setting the blaze and apparently reported himself to police.
Witnesses told KIRO7 that Acord allegedly was seen walking on the highway with a lighter and cardboard. The outlet reported that he is a regular at Black Lives Matter and anti-police rallies in Seattle.
Joint team effort!! WSP, Fife Pd and Puyallup PD just arrested a 36yr old Puyallup resident. He was caught in the median on SR-167@ Meridian setting a fire! He is currently on his way to jail! Great job everybody!#playstupidgames pic.twitter.com/8N3wHcT5kJ
— Trooper Ryan Burke (@wspd1pio) September 9, 2020
Jacob Altona, 28, was arrested in connection to arson in Washington state near State Route 512 and State Route 7, officials said.
In California, Anita Esquivel, 37, was arrested for deliberately setting fires in California, said the California Highway Patrol, according to KION-TV.
The Monterey County District Attorney’s Office told KION that there is no evidence that Esquivel has a connection to Black Lives Matter or the far-left group Antifa.
Officials said Esquivel allegedly set fires on Highway 101 near Boronda Road in Salinas. She was taken to Monterey County Jail on arson charges.
On Saturday, the National Interagency Fire Center noted that about 97 fires have burned 4.7 million acres across the West Coast.
“More than 29,000 firefighters and support personnel are assigned to wildfires. Evacuation orders are in place for 40 large fires in California, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Idaho, and Utah,” the agency said.