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Man Arrested on Suspicion of Arson in California’s 2022 Oak Fire That Was Widely Blamed on Climate Change

At the time of the Oak Fire, Al Gore was platformed by ABC to tell listeners, "This should be a moment for a global epiphany...More people will be killed and the survival of our civilization is at stake."
Neil Campbell
Neil lives in Canada and writes about society and politics.
Published: June 17, 2023
A man has been arrested for arson regarding the 2022 Oak Fire in Mariposa.
A file photo of the 2022 Oak Fire near Mariposa in California. Although establishment media made a point of passively tying the blaze to the carbon climate change narrative, 71-year-old Edward Fredrick Wackerman has been arrested on suspicion of arson in connection with the event. (Image: DAVID MCNEW/AFP via Getty Images)

A 71-year-old man has been arrested for allegedly starting a forest fire last year that burned down more than 100 homes near Yosemite National Park in California.

At the time, major media outlets either directly attributed fire to, or implied it was the result of man-made global climate change.

The Associated Press reported on June 16 that Mariposa County resident Edward Fredrick Wackerman was arrested on suspicion of arson, aggravated arson, and other charges based on a press release issued by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire).

The outlet said that although no charges have been filed against Wackerman and no details about the arrest were provided by Cal Fire, the man “is suspected of starting the Oak Fire in Mariposa County in the Sierra Nevada in July 2022.”


The Oak Fire was incredibly significant. Time Magazine issued an article at the time featuring a remarkable collection of photos of the catastrophe, which involved fire tornadoes, burned down houses, and acres of trees burned to ashes.

Burning until August before being suppressed by the efforts of some 2,000 firefighters, the Oak Fire scoured nearly 20,000 acres of land 


In a July 2022 AP article on the fire, the outlet wrote that “California has experienced increasingly larger and deadlier wildfires in recent years as climate change has made the West much warmer and drier over the past 30 years. Scientists have said weather will continue to be more extreme and wildfires more frequent, destructive and unpredictable.”

An article by the Los Angeles Times published around the same time stated that more fires were expected “due to a combination of drought, climate change and overgrown vegetation that has increased the likelihood of fires igniting quickly and spreading rapidly.”

It added, “It came as much of the globe was in the grip of extreme heat, with record-breaking temperatures fueling fires across Europe and prompting alerts in large swaths of the United States and China”

In an article by CNN on the blaze, which threatened a group of 2,000-year-old sequoia trees that have grown to be several hundred feet tall, the outlet similarly commented, “The western US has been ravaged by wildfires in recent years, exacerbated by drought conditions tied to climate change. In California alone, more than 2.5 million acres were destroyed in nearly 9,000 fires last year, according to Cal Fire.”

In a report on the then-ongoing fire, The Guardian quoted Al Gore, who told ABC News in an interview, “This should be a moment for a global epiphany,“ and that “more people will be killed and the survival of our civilization is at stake.”

‘Man-made’ in another sense

Wildfires being caused by arsonists is not a new phenomenon.

In June 2021, a 54-year-old woman in Canada was charged with 32 counts of arson in relation to a string of wildfires near Lac la Biche, a hamlet of 2,700 people, and the Town of Bonnyville, a town of 5,700 people, in Alberta, Global News reported.

And over a decade ago, in 2011, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Canada’s federal police, told the public that a $700 million fire that ravaged the 6,000 person town of Slave Lake did not originate from natural causes, but was the result of arson, The Globe and Mail reported.

Few details on Wackerman’s case have been made public. Walter Wall, the District Attorney for Mariposa County, announced on his website that a press conference on the case is scheduled for June 20 after the “Juneteenth” long weekend.

“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,” the announcement states.

“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,” it adds.

In an article reporting on Wackerman’s charges by The Los Angeles Times, the outlet declined to reference climate change as a cause of the Oak Fire.

Instead, it explained that a “combination of heat, low humidity and parched vegetation” had “bedeviled firefighters.”