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    Two Visions of America by Don Jans

    Man, 71, charged with setting massive Yosemite park fire initially blamed on climate change

    By Isabel Keane, NY Post

    A 71-year-old man has been arrested for allegedly starting a devastating massive forest fire in Yosemite National Park that was previously thought to have been caused by climate change.

    Edward Fredrick Wackerman of Mariposa, Calif., was busted Friday on suspicion of arson for allegedly igniting the Oak Fire, which destroyed 127 homes, caused thousands of people to evacuate and ravaged nearly 20,000 acres of vegetation in July 2022.

    The suspect is facing charges of suspicion of aggravated arson, arson that causes great bodily injury and arson causing damage or destruction of inhabited structures, the California Department of Forestry said.

    It isn’t clear how Wackerman may have started the blaze or what finally led to his arrest. Mariposa County District Attorney Walter Wall said a Tuesday press conference on the case is planned.

    “Ed Wackerman is facing several felony charges, including aggravated arson. These charges carry serious legal consequences and the District Attorney is committed to ensuring a fair trial and upholding justice,” Wall said in a statement posted online.

    Alleged arsonist Edward Fredrick Wackerman was arrested Friday.Mariposa County Sheriff’s OfficeThe fire, initially attributed to climate change, ravaged more than 125 homes, forced thousands of people to flee their residences and burned nearly 20,000 acres of vegetation.Getty Images

    “Currently, the investigation is under review by our office. Due to the sensitive nature of the case and the rights of the defendant, we cannot disclose anything other than what has been released in the Cal Fire press release,” he added.

    At the height of the massive blaze, about 6,000 people living in the nearby mountain communities were ordered by officials to flee their homes.

    While no one was killed in the ginormous inferno, the fire injured three firefighters, scorched 30 square miles of land and destroyed 127 homes and 66 outbuildings.

    At the time, smoke from the fire drifted more than 200 miles, reaching Lake Tahoe, parts of Nevada and the San Francisco Bay Area.

    California has experienced increasingly larger and deadlier wildfires in recent years from what scientists say is the result of climate change. Officially initially believed that’s what caused the Oak Fire.

    The Oak Fire was just one of several devastating blazes that charred California last year.

    The Mill Fire in Siskyou County caused two deaths and destroyed nearly 150 buildings.

    On Friday, Cal Fire officials said the Mill Fire was caused by operations at a wood products mill in Weed, Calif., near the California-Oregon border.

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