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Fresnan arrested for Bass Lake fires

A suspect arrested for allegedly going on an arson spree around Bass Lake last week was identified as Michael Lee Lapschies of Fresno, formerly of Coarsegold.

Lapschies, 40, is accused of starting eight fires in a span of a few hours, along with felony arson to a structure on forest land, threatening with an intent to terrorize, and possession of a dirk or dagger, along with enhancements for committing felonies while on probation.

Lapschies faces eight felony arson charges when arraigned Friday afternoon, Madera County District Attorney David Linn said.

Karen Guillemin-Kanawyer, a fire prevention specialist with Cal Fire, said additional details will not be released at this time due to the ongoing investigation.

Before 3 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 30, firefighters tackled a vegetation fire on Road 222 near Pettitt Road.

A second fire, about 30 minutes later, was on Road 222 near Miller’s Landing Resort. Six additional blazes were all contained around the Bass Lake Fire Station on Road 223 near Road 426. None of the fires caused any major damages.

Lapschies is held in Madera County Jail, after he was detained for questioning Wednesday afternoon, then booked around 8:10 p.m.

The investigation was a joint effort between Cal Fire, the U.S. Forest Service, Madera County Sheriff’s Office, and CHP.

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