Trial set for man accused of setting fire during Almeda blaze

Oregon

Michael Jarod Bakkela is accused of setting a fire near Phoenix while the Almeda fire was already burning

Michael Jarrod Bakkela, September 11, 2020 (Jackson County Sheriff’s Office)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A trial date has been set for a man accused of setting a fire that damaged and destroyed homes in southern Oregon while the Almeda fire was burning in the same area.

A grand jury in September indicted Michael Jarrod Bakkela on 32 counts of arson, criminal mischief, reckless endangering and possession of methamphetamine. In October, several counts of animal abuse were also levied against him, for the deaths of pets, livestock and a raccoon, according to court documents.

Investigators said the fire was set on September 8 behind a home in the 1100 block of Quail Lane in Phoenix. Residents called 911 shortly after 5 p.m.to report a man lighting a fire. The witnesses had to flee their home due to the “impending fire,” according to deputies.

Additional details are sparse; the probable cause affidavit is currently sealed due to “confidentiality,” though Jackson County Circuit Court staff could not elaborate on the reasons for that.

The blaze contributed to the devastation in Phoenix, but was not the origin of the Almeda Fire, which had started earlier in the day.

Court records show Bakkela’s jury trial will begin August 10 and is scheduled to last up to four days. Bakkela remains in custody in the Jackson County Jail.

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