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Alleged Oak Fire Arsonist Was A Former Firefighter

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Mariposa, CA — Mariposa County law enforcement officials gave an update on charges filed against 71-year-old Edward Wackerman, who is accused of igniting last year’s 19,000-acre Oak Fire.

We first reported on the arrest last week. 

A press conference was hosted this morning by District Attorney Walter Wall, Sheriff Jeremy Briese, and CAL Fire.

Briese noted that the Oak Fire destroyed 127 homes and was the “most devastating fire in Mariposa’s history.”

The group was tight-lipped about many aspects of the investigation, and how they learned it was Wackerman.

However, District Attorney Wall relayed that Wackerman had actually started three other fires in that same area (near Carstens Road) in the days leading up, and the fourth intentional fire, happening on July 21, is what became the Oak Fire.

Sheriff Briese stated that it is his understanding that Wackerman was a former firefighter, but no other information was relayed about where he had been stationed, or his past positions.

Edward Fredrick Wackerman b
Edward Wackerman booking photo

Briese stated that the arrest came after “combing through evidence and preparing a criminal case,” adding that he is “100%” confident that Wackerman is the person responsible.

Continuing, “It is a step toward justice, but it cannot undo the damage that has already been done.”

The officials also declined to comment on a possible motive for the crime.

They did note that Wackerman is a longtime Mariposa County resident.

If convicted of the four counts of arson, DA Wall says Wackerman could face up to life in prison.