MADERA COUNTY – Kenneth Jackson, who was taken into custody on June 25 in connection with a series of fires in the Yosemite Lakes Park area, remains in custody on $500,000 bond, awaiting his next hearing, set for Tuesday, July 2.
Jackson, 40, and his wife, Allison Waterman, 46, both of East Revis Circle in YLP, were arrested after an extensive investigation by Cal Fire into the recent rash of fires in and around the YLP area.
The couple was detained just as a fire was starting in the area behind their house. It was the 7th fire near the end of the cul-de-sac since mid-May.
Waterman was booked on one charge of arson, and was released on bail later that day. She was given a notice to appear date, reportedly in late July.
When Jackson was booked, he was charged with 31 counts of arson, assault on a peace officer and resisting arrest. The counts of assault and resisting arrest have not been charged by the District Attorney’s Office at this time.
According to Madera County District Attorney Michael Keitz, “We have not been presented with the evidence on those charges at this time, so I can only say that we charged the counts based upon the reports we have received from Cal Fire.”
The exact charges against Jackson, from the California Penal Code, are as follows:
pc451(c) Arson of a structure or forest land is a felony punishable by
imprisonment in the state prison for two, four, or six years.
pc451(b) Arson that causes an inhabited structure or inhabited property
to burn is a felony punishable by imprisonment in the state prison
for three, five, or eight years.
pc182(a) If two or more persons conspire: (1) To commit any crime.
Jackson pleaded not guilty to all charges when he was arraigned on Thursday, June 27. He is scheduled to appear at a pre-preliminary hearing and bail review on Tuesday, July 2, when it will be determined whether or not his preliminary hearing, set for July 12, will go forward.
“The hearing on July 12 is a probable cause hearing,” said Keitz. “We have to prove to the court that we have sufficient evidence to hold the defendant to answer on the charges.”
Jackson is the owner-operator of Ken Jackson Transport, and owns one power unit which is used to haul heavy equipment. Jackson told SNO in an interview after a fire behind his house on May 22, that he had hauled a bulldozer to the Gold Fire, the first large fire of the season that burned 291 acres near O’Neals.
“The Yosemite Lakes Park community has been threatened by countless wildfires over the past several months that we believe were a result of arson,” said Chief Nancy Koerperich, CAL FIRE Unit Chief for the Madera-Mariposa-Merced Unit. “We appreciate the community’s support and assistance as we worked to track down these suspects.”
CAL FIRE law enforcement officers work diligently in arson cases to aggressively investigate and prosecute those suspected of intentionally starting fires. Numerous agencies assisted in the investigation and arrest including the Madera County Sheriff’s Department, Madera County District Attorney’s Office and the Yosemite Lakes Park security staff.
As fire danger remains extreme across California, arson is a major threat to both life and property. Residents should be vigilant in their preparedness and aware of suspicious persons when a fire does start. If you witness someone suspicious make note of the time, his or her physical description, as well as any vehicle description, including the license plate number. Always contact law enforcement, never approach a suspicious person. Anyone with information about arson is urged to contact the CAL FIRE Arson Hotline at 1-800-468-4408. Callers can remain anonymous.