MADERA COUNTY – A suspect has been arrested in connection with a rash of fires in the Bass Lake area yesterday. According to Cal Fire, there were eight separate ignitions, with the first reported just before 3 p.m. on Road 222 near Pettitt Road.
Crews responded to a second fire about 30 minutes later on Road 222 near Miller’s Landing, and crews suppressed six more in the area of the Cal Fire Bass Lake Fire Station on Road 223 near Road 426.
Michael Lee Lapschies, 40, of Coarsegold, was detained for questioning late Wednesday, Sept. 30, and booked into the Madera County Department of Corrections at 8 p.m., charged with arson, committing a felony while on bail, threatening crime with intent to terrorize, and possessing a knife. He is being held on $50,000 bond. Lapschies was on the probation at the time of his arrest.
Though the sound of gunshots was heard in the general area of the fires yesterday, no shots were fired in conjunction with this incident, or the arrest of the suspect, according to Cal Fire.
A complaint will be filed by the District Attorney’s Office tomorrow, and Lapschies is expected to be arraigned tomorrow afternoon.
The investigation and arrest were a joint effort between Cal Fire, CHP, the U.S. Forest Service, and the Madera County Sheriff’s Office.
“The cooperation of all these agencies was crucial to the outcome,” says Cal Fire Prevention Specialist Karen Guillemin-Kanawyer.
The investigation is ongoing.