Officials from Oregon charged a homeless man with starting one of the two ignition points for the 3,200-acre Almeda fire in the southern part of Oregon, according to Jackson County Sheriff's Office.
The 41-year-old man, Michael Jarrod Bakkela, was seen by residents lighting a fire behind their house on September 8. State troopers arrived at the scene after receiving a call from residents; they found the suspect standing close to a massive fire.
The Jackson County deputies, who also responded to the call, said that the fire was spreading so fast that it was threatening several homes in the area.
Bakkela was previously arrested for violating probation on an earlier drug charge, and he was later charged with two counts of arson, 14 counts of reckless endangering and 15 counts of criminal mischief.
The fire Bakkela is said to have started was the one of two ignition points for the fire in Almeda, which was at 50% contained by noon on September 12, according to OregonLive.
Two people were found dead in the fire, one of whom has been determined to have died due to the blaze. But that person was found near the other origin point and not the one that Bakkela allegedly started.
Oregon Fire Marshal's office spokesman Rick Tyler said that it had not been determined if the second person died because of the fire like the first body they found.
Wildfire in Oregon
The Almeda fire is one of the smaller wildfires currently burning in Oregon. According to Gov. Kate Brown, more than 1 million acres have been scorched, and seven people are now dead with dozens more missing.
Tens of thousands are under mandatory evacuation orders with several hundred thousand more told to be prepared to evacuate and pack up.
Adding to the panic and difficulties of battling the devastating fires are rumors that Antifa, the anti-fascist group, is said to have started the fires and are planning to loot houses that are evacuated. This is, of course, not true.
There were also rumors accusing Democrats of starting the fires for political gain. But this rumor was debunked by state and federal officials, as there was no evidence to support them, according to OregonLive.
Ashland Police Chief Tighe O'Meara, the criminal investigation into the start of the Almeda fire is ongoing, and that rumors about Antifa groups starting fires are 100% false information.
Numerous agencies have posted on social media urging people to stop sharing the rumors, but the falsehoods continue to spread.
On September 10, armed men confronted an Oregon Public Broadcasting journalist and two other reporters in Molalla and ordered them to leave the city.
Sergio Olmos said on Twitter that he was interviewing a couple when two men with rifles approached them and asked them what they were doing and what they were taking pictures of. He said the men told them to leave.
One of the reporters with Olmos, Justin Yau, wrote on Twitter that the armed men were "wary of outsiders based on rumors of arsonists starting fires in the area."
On September 11, Multnomah County Sheriff's Office said on Twitter that residents in Corbett had set up checkpoints and were stopping cars, warning that "it is never legal to block a public roadway or force other citizens to stop."