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Almeda fire arson suspect has August trial date

What’s the latest on the guy who was arrested on arson charges during the Almeda fire? Have they set a trial date for him yet? Also, is he still in jail?

— No name given

Michael Jarrod Bakkela, 42, is being held in the Jackson County Jail on $5,024,000 bail and charges accusing him of starting a fire near the railroad tracks Sept. 8 that added to the Almeda fire. However, we don't have much in the way of new developments to report.

The most recent development in Bakkela’s case was two months ago, when a trial was scheduled for August on Bakkela’s charges of first-degree arson, first-degree criminal mischief, multiple counts of reckless endangering and first-degree animal abuse, Jackson County Circuit Court records show.

The trial is expected to last four days starting Aug. 10, according to court records, but it’s too soon to say if everyone involved — from Chief Deputy District Attorney Jeremy Markiewicz to defense lawyer Donald Scales — will be ready for trial in six months.

For those just tuning in, prosecutors have not accused Bakkela with starting the entire Almeda fire, but rather a section behind a mobile home park near Hoyt Lane in north Phoenix, according to earlier news reports.

Hot, dry, vicious winds had carried the Almeda fire from Ashland north through Talent and into Phoenix for several hours before Bakkela allegedly started another fire at about 5 p.m.

The cause of the Almeda fire is still under investigation.

Send questions to “Since You Asked,” Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501 or by email to youasked@rosebudmedia.com. We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.