Four People Arrested For Deliberately Starting Wildfires Along American West Coast
Four people have been arrested for deliberately starting fires along the West Coast of the United States after devastating wildfires spread across several states.
Two men in Washington, one man in Oregon and one woman in California have been arrested in recent days and are facing arson charges as thousands of firefighters battle to bring the blazes under control.
At least 20 people have been killed in California alone, while in Oregon the number of fatalities sits at eight, with dozens of people still missing. Officials are warning residents need to prepare for a ‘mass fatality event’. In Washington, a one-year-old boy was killed after being trapped by the fires with his parents.
The four people that have been arrested are accused of setting fires in areas that were already dealing with deadly wildfires, which have so far destroyed more than two million acres of land in what has been the worst year on record in terms of the amount of land burnt.
Two men, who both remain unnamed, were arrested in Washington state this week for starting separate fires, authorities confirmed. One, a 36-year-old from Puyallup, was arrested on Wednesday, September 9, for allegedly starting a fire on State Route 167 at Meridian.
The following day, another unidentified man was arrested for a fire started at State Route 512 and State Route 7. He had to be chased on foot by law enforcement officials before they could detain him.
Meanwhile in Oregon, authorities announced arson charges against a 41-year-old man on Friday, September 11, for allegedly starting a fire in southern Oregon earlier this week as the area tried to deal with the Almeda fire.
Michael Jarrod Bakkela was charged with two counts of arson, 15 counts of criminal mischief and 14 counts of reckless endangering for allegedly starting the blaze, which spread rapidly and quickly merged with the Almeda fire.
Witnesses allegedly saw Bakkela setting a fire behind a home in Phoenix on Tuesday evening, with the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office saying deputies arrived on the scene to find Bakkela ‘standing close to a very large fire threatening several homes’, the MailOnline reports.
Authorities said the fire caused ‘significant damage’ and destroyed ‘numerous homes’, with Bakkela being held at the Jackson County Jail for his suspected role in the destruction. He is expected to be arraigned on Monday, September 14.
A 37-year-old woman was arrested in California on Friday, September 11, for allegedly starting an unknown number of fires on Highway 101 near Boronda Road. Anita Esquivel was booked into Monterey County Jail on arson charges.
The Monterey County District Attorney’s Office later dismissed rumours that Esquivel was part of the antifa movement, after public officials were forced to plead with the public to stop sharing misinformation circulating online.
The arrests come as the National Weather Service revealed a massive 87% of all US wildfires this year were caused by humans.
Our thoughts are with those affected by the wildfires.
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