AN accused arsonist is facing more than 100 years of jail time after allegedly setting alight a catastrophic fire that killed several people and destroyed thousands of homes in Oregon.
Michael Jarrod Bakkela, 41, has been arrested on two counts of arson, 16 counts of criminal mischief, and 14 counts of reckless endangerment. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges. If convicted, he faces a maximum of 134 years behind bars.
He is next listed to appear in court in December.
The fire Bakkela allegedly started was believed to be one of the origins of the Almeda fire and the two quickly merged in September, said Oregon State Fire Marshal’s office spokesman Rich Tyler.
It killed two people, destroyed a thousand homes, and laid waste to 5700 acres.
Photos show the towns of Phoenix and Talent reduced to ashes after the Almeda fire tore through.
The Jackson County Sheriff’s Office previously said that a Phoenix resident saw a person, who was later identified as Bakkela, lighting a fire behind their house.
Because of the blaze, the residents who saw him set the fire had to flee their home.
State troopers and sheriff’s deputies who arrived saw Bakkela standing close to a large fire that was threatening several homes, authorities said.
Jackson County Sheriff’s Office public information officer Mike Moran told ABC News there was “significant damage” stemming from the fire he’s accused of starting.
“There are numerous homes, many of which are burnt completely, some are just heavily damaged, that are part of the 15 counts of criminal mischief,” he said.
Four people have now been arrested on the West Coast for deliberately starting blazes that saw multiple wildfires rage last month.
Police have detained two men in Washington, a man in Oregon, and a woman in California in connection with the fires.
Dozens of people were killed across the regions.
According to California Highway Patrol, Anita Esquivel, 37, was arrested after being accused of intentionally starting fires and is being held in Monterey County Jail for arson.
They said it happened on Highway 101 near Boronda Road, and it was first reported just after 9 am on Friday.
The Monterey County District Attorney’s Office said she has no connection with Antifa, contrary to rumors circulating online about the group having started the fires.
Trooper Ryan Burke, Washington State Patrol District 1 Public Information Officer for Pierce and Thurston counties said that two men have been arrested for arson.
He tweeted that a 36-year-old Puyallup resident was caught on State Route 167 at Meridian for setting a fire last month and is now in jail.