March 4, 2024
March 4, 2024
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California man arrested on suspicion of starting wildfire that burned over 19K acres

California wildfire authorities have arrested a senior Mariposa County man identified as the suspect responsible for starting the July 2022 Oak fire, which burned more than 19,000 acres of vegetation and more than 125 residential buildings. 

Cal Fire said in a Friday statement that 71-year-old Edward Fredrick Wackerman was arrested on multiple felony charges, including suspicion of aggravated arson, arson that caused great bodily injury and arson causing damage or destruction of inhabited structures. 

The arrest and investigation into the matter were conducted by Cal Fire law enforcement officers, the Mariposa County Sheriff’s Office, U.S. Forest Service law enforcement, the National Park Service’s law enforcement, Madera County District Attorney investigators, the Mariposa County District Attorney’s office, the California Department of Justice Attorney General’s office and the FBI. 

The Mariposa County District Attorney said Wackerman’s charges carry “serious legal consequences” and that the investigation is under review. 

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A related press conference is scheduled for Tuesday morning at the Mariposa County Courthouse. 

Cal Fire did not provide any details of what led to the arrest, and no charges have been filed. 

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It wasn’t immediately clear whether Wackerman had an attorney to speak on his behalf.

The Cal Fire release said the fire occurred in the Midpines area, near Yosemite National Park, tearing through 19,244 acres of vegetation, 127 residential structures and 66 outbuildings. 

The wildfire injured three firefighters, and thousands of people were forced to evacuate.

The agency reminded the public to be vigilant and report suspicious activity to authorities, noting that callers to the Cal Fire arson hotline can remain anonymous.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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