Arrest Made In Southern Oregon Arson

The Jackson County Sheriff’s Office has arrested a suspect on Arson and other charges regarding a fire that was set during the deadly Almeda Fire in the area of the railroad tracks in Phoenix, Oregon.

This case is separate from the Almeda Fire investigation, but the investigations have been a joint effort by the Major Assault Death Investigation Unit members including Jackson County Sheriff's Office, Oregon State Police, Medford Police and Ashland Police and the Jackson County District Attorney's Office.

The suspect, 41-year-old Michael Bakkela, a local transient, is lodged on the following charges: Two counts of Arson I; fifteen counts of Criminal Mischief I and fourteen counts of Reckless Endangering.

Police say that on Tuesday afternoon, police received a 911 call reporting that residents witnessed Bakkela lighting a fire behind their house. Due to the impending fire, the witnesses had to flee their home and could not be interviewed immediately.

On arrival of OSP Troopers and JCSO Deputies, Bakkela was standing close to a very large fire threatening several homes.

Pending completion of the Arson investigation, Bakkela initially was lodged on a Probation Violation detainer on an original charge of Unlawful Possession of Methamphetamine, more than 2 ounces.

Bakkela remains lodged at the Jackson County Jail. The case has been referred to the Jackson County District Attorney's Office.