An elderly California man has been arrested in connection with a massive forest fire that swept through Yosemite National Park in July 2022. Edward Fredrick Wackerman, 71, was taken into custody on June 16 following an investigation that lasted nearly a year.
The blaze, known as the Oak Fire, was originally attributed to climate change by many Democrats, including California Sen. Alex Padilla, who used the incident as an opportunity to push his environmental agenda.
Wackerman appeared in court on June 20, and is being held on a no bail detention order. Wackerman will next appear in court on September 14, 2023, according to Mariposa County District Attorney Walter Wall.
In a June press conference, Wall revealed that Wackerman has been charged with one count of aggravated arson, and three forest land felonies, including arson that caused great bodily injury and arson that caused damage to an inhabited dwelling. If convicted, he faces up to life in prison.
Wall explained that four separate fires had been “intentionally set” in Mariposa County, leading to the Oak Fire, which went on to consume 127 residential structures, and engulf nearly 19,000 acres of land.
The blaze resulted in $8.3 million in property loss, and cost CalFire close to $100 million in response costs. Thankfully no lives were lost.
Sheriff Jeremy Briese reiterated that the fires were “deliberately set” and “not accidental.” He said that Wackerman became a suspect early on in the investigation, and authorities were able to attain probable cause to perform an arrest.
Thank you to all the firefighters and first responders working tirelessly under difficult conditions to combat the #OakFire.
Worsening drought and severe weather will only continue to put lives and property at risk from wildfire if we don’t take climate action NOW. https://t.co/TG2djAM0OF
— Senator Alex Padilla (@SenAlexPadilla) July 25, 2022
At the time of the fire, however, many Democrats pushed the narrative that it had been caused by climate change.
“Worsening drought and severe weather will only continue to put lives and property at risk from wildfire if we don’t take climate action NOW,” Sen. Padilla said on Twitter.
Climate crusader Al Gore said “the survival of our civilization is at stake” in an interview discussing how quickly the blaze had spread.
The investigation is ongoing, as authorities try to uncover a motive. A date for Wackerman’s arraignment has been set for September 14.
Wackerman is a longtime member of the Mariposa County community, and has experience as a firefighter. According to the Washington Free Beacon, he was also a Democrat, and gave money to many left-wing causes, including a $1,000 donation to Tim Ryan’s 2022 Senate campaign, and a $400 donation to the Lincoln Project.