SEVERE WX : Wind Advisory - High Wind Warning - Flash Flood Watch - Flood Watch View Alerts

FireWatch: One year later, there's still no suspect in Almeda Fire investigation

The Ashland Police Department, which has been leading the Almeda Fire investigation, says that there is still no suspect in the arson investigation.

Posted: Sep 7, 2021 12:48 PM
Updated: Sep 7, 2021 12:56 PM

ASHLAND, Ore. — It's now been one year since the Almeda Fire burned north from Ashland and destroyed much of Talent and Phoenix. According to the Ashland Police Department, there are still no definitive answers in the investigation into how it started.

Ashland Police has been the lead investigative agency on the case since the beginning, with help from the Jackson County Sheriff's Office, Oregon State Police, Medford Police, and consultation from the FBI.

"As of now a suspect has not been identified. The Ashland Police Department, along with its partner agencies, will continue to work toward solving this crime," the agency said in a statement on Tuesday marking the anniversary.

"Like other major cases, this case is not considered 'closed' and won’t be until it is seen to full resolution," Ashland Police continued. "The case remains open pending more information becoming available."

According to APD, the investigation has included help from 18 different law enforcement agencies between Oregon, Washington, California, and Alabama. More than 200 people have been interviewed over the course of the investigation, including multiple polygraph examinations.

The fire started around 11 a.m. that Wednesday near a subdivision on the north end of Ashland, not far from the Ashland BMX Park and city wastewater treatment plant. Buffeted by unusually strong, sustained winds, the fire raced northwest along the Bear Creek Greenway between I-5 and Highway 99, eventually expanding beyond the bounds of both and into the surrounding communities.

Three people died in the Almeda Fire, two of them identified. The third is still the subject of investigation. An unidentified man's body was found along the Bear Creek Greenway about a mile away from the fire's point of origin. Investigators are still trying to use DNA to obtain a positive identification.

A man arrested on suspicion of arson in Phoenix on the night of the Almeda Fire, 41-year-old Michael Bakkela, faces a multitude of charges for his alleged actions that day. However, there has been no indication that Bakkela is suspected of starting the initial fire that broke out near the north end of Ashland.

Anyone with information about how the fire began is still encouraged to contact Ashland Police.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 357526

Reported Deaths: 4284
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah55810707
Washington38782324
Marion36837455
Clackamas29779309
Lane27744302
Jackson23059310
Deschutes20336125
Umatilla14492150
Linn12911131
Douglas12118243
Josephine9384196
Yamhill8715113
Klamath8020119
Polk737381
Malheur563677
Benton549431
Coos503794
Columbia382644
Jefferson376052
Lincoln319939
Union319549
Crook291846
Wasco288841
Clatsop244328
Baker203529
Tillamook196932
Hood River192837
Morrow185023
Curry180625
Harney113927
Grant100013
Lake93912
Wallowa68612
Gilliam1544
Sherman1523
Wheeler1121
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 4848946

Reported Deaths: 71328
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles148303126527
Riverside3716705041
San Diego3666614183
San Bernardino3586775692
Orange3242885562
Sacramento1596362309
Kern1463481648
Fresno1463182094
Santa Clara1455431897
Alameda1206921400
San Joaquin1027761721
Ventura1010381167
Contra Costa1000181008
Stanislaus862991335
Tulare80375978
San Francisco54440649
San Mateo54168623
Monterey50911586
Solano46063341
Santa Barbara45223523
Merced42422581
Sonoma40997404
Placer39435429
Imperial36071766
Kings32938325
San Luis Obispo29973333
Madera23955285
Shasta23924352
Butte23818273
Santa Cruz21034221
Yolo20397248
Marin17706244
El Dorado17207149
Sutter13937175
Napa12898100
Yuba1011582
Tehama9534110
Humboldt9269109
Nevada916790
Mendocino766787
Lassen754347
San Benito744972
Tuolumne691790
Lake6631105
Amador547364
Siskiyou451246
Glenn438433
Calaveras391481
Del Norte358742
Colusa307618
Inyo214241
Mono16723
Plumas16607
Mariposa133916
Trinity88011
Modoc6895
Sierra1880
Unassigned1460
Alpine1050
Out of CA00
Medford
Cloudy
54° wxIcon
Hi: 58° Lo: 46°
Feels Like: 54°
Brookings
Cloudy
52° wxIcon
Hi: 53° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 52°
Crater Lake
Cloudy
54° wxIcon
Hi: 35° Lo: 27°
Feels Like: 54°
Grants Pass
Cloudy
54° wxIcon
Hi: 57° Lo: 48°
Feels Like: 54°
Klamath Falls
Cloudy
43° wxIcon
Hi: 44° Lo: 36°
Feels Like: 40°
Wet and very windy weekend in progress
KDRV Radar
KDRV Fire Danger
KDRV Weather Cam

Community Events