CENTRAL POINT, Ore. - A man faces accusations he set a fire during the Almeda Fire that roared through Phoenix and Talent this week.
"This case is separate from the Almeda Fire investigation but the investigations have been a joint effort by the Major Assault Death Investigation Unit," the Jackson County Sheriff's Office said Friday.
The investigation started September 8 with a report to 911 that residents witnessed the man "lighting a fire behind their house on Quail Lane," the sheriff's office said. "Due to the impending fire, the witnesses had to flee their home and could not be interviewed immediately."
When deputies and state troopers arrived, they found Michael Jarrod Bakkela, 41, standing "close to a very large fire threatening several homes," the sheriff's office said.
Bakkela - described by the sheriff as a "local transient" - faces two counts of Arson I; 15 counts of Criminal Mischief I; and 14 counts of Reckless Endangering, the sheriff's office said.