Man accused of starting fire during the Almeda Fire pleads ‘no contest’

MEDFORD, Ore. – The man accused of starting a fire in Phoenix that merged with the Almeda Fire entered his plea.

Police said Michael Bakkela started a fire west of the railroad tracks and north of Dano Way in Phoenix on September 8th, 2020.

He has not been charged with starting the Almeda Fire in Ashland earlier that day. Police have not said how that fire originated.

Bakkela faced dozens of charges including arson, criminal mischief, and reckless endangerment.

During a hearing on Wednesday, May 4, Bakkela pleaded “no contest” to 15 charges of criminal mischief and a single arson charge. All remaining charges were dropped. A “no contest” plea means he’s been convicted of the charges without admitting guilt.

Bakkela is scheduled to return to court on May 9 for a sentencing hearing.

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