JACKSON COUNTY, OR (KPTV) - A man is facing arson charges for starting a fire in southern Oregon, separate from a major wildfire that has led to at least one death, according to investigators.
Deputies responded to Quail Lane off Barnum Drive between Highway 99 and railroad tracks in Phoenix at 5:09 p.m. Tuesday.
Witnesses called 911 to report a man starting a fire behind a home on Quail Lane. The people in the home were forced to evacuate due to the fire.
Troopers and deputies arrived and found the suspect, Michael Jarrod Bakkela, 41, standing close to “a very large fire threatening several homes,” according to the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office.
Bakkela, who is homeless, according to the sheriff’s office, has been arrested on charges of first-degree arson, criminal mischief and reckless endangering.
Deputies said Bakkela also had a probation detainer on the charge of unlawful possession of methamphetamine, more than 2 ounces.
He remained in jail Friday.
Deputies said the fire was started as the Almeda Fire continues to burn in southern Oregon. This case is separate from the Almeda Fire investigation, according to the sheriff’s office.
A separate criminal investigation is underway regarding the Almeda Fire. At least one person has died in connection with that fire, which has burned hundreds of homes with ignition spots in Ashland and Phoenix, according to an Associated Press report.
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