A 71-year-old man was arrested and charged with starting the 2022 Oak Fire, the Mariposa County Sheriff’s Office said yesterday. Edward Fredrick Wackerman of Mariposa, California, faces felony charges including aggravated arson for the fire that burned 19,244 acres and destroyed 127 residential structures and dozens of outbuildings. The Fresno Bee reported that the Oak Fire near Yosemite National Park ignited about 2 p.m. on July 22, 2022, in Midpines.
CAL FIRE law enforcement officers arrested Wackerman, according to the Mariposa Gazette, after an extensive interagency investigation, on multiple felony charges including suspicion of aggravated arson PC 451.5, arson that causes great bodily injury PC 451(a), and arson causing damage or destruction of inhabited structures PC 451(b).
The investigation was a collaborative effort among multiple agencies including CAL FIRE Law Enforcement, Mariposa County Sheriff’s Office, USFS Law Enforcement, NPS Law Enforcement, Madera County District Attorney Investigators, Mariposa County District Attorney’s Office, California Department of Justice Attorney General’s Office, and the FBI.
There were no reported fatalities caused by the Oak Fire, but Cal Fire said some were injured and treated, almost all for heat-related illness, and the fire burned for almost a month.
Officials initially said they were limited on what they could discuss in order to protect the investigation, but the Mariposa County Sheriff’s Office said it planned a news conference for 10 a.m. Tuesday in front of the Mariposa County Courthouse; it will be streamed live on Facebook.