Coarsegold Carpenter Causes Conflagration

Coarsegold Carpenter Causes Conflagration

An arrest has been made in Coarsegold of a man accused of starting several fires in nearby forests on Wednesday, September 30. Coarsegold is located northeast of Madera along Highway 41, in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The fires were started in the Bass Lake area, several miles east of Coarsegold.

According to the official media report released by the Madera County Department of Corrections, Michael Lee Lapschies, 40, was appreheded by by the Madera Sheriff’s Department for arson of a structure or forest land, threatening to commit a crime with the intent to terrorize, possession of an illegal dirk or dagger, and committing a felony while released on bail. Cal Fire officials have attributed eight ignitions to Lapschies so far.

Michael Lapschies - image from Facebook. His profile shows him as father, outdoorsman, and a recent newlywed.

Michael Lapschies – image from Facebook. His profile shows him as father, outdoorsman, and a recent newlywed.

According to the report, Lapschies makes his living as a carpenter and resides in Coarsegold. His Facebook profile lists Apex Construction in Oakhurst as a former employer. When arrested, he was on probation, and was being held on a $50,000 bond. That amount has since been increased to $550,000.

According to available records, Lapschies was arrested less than two weeks prior to this incident, when on Saturday, September 19, California Highway Patrol officers out of the Oakhurst office arrested him for disorderly conduct – being under the influence of drugs or alcohol, contempt of court – disobeying a court order, and resisting arrest. He reported living in Oakhurst at that time.

In March of 2014 he was also arrested by Oakhurst CHP for driving under the influence. At that time he reported the same Coarsegold address as his current residence. He had also been arrested on an unspecified warrant in both August and December of 2013, as reported by the Fresno Sheriff’s office.

In 2012 he was living in a town called Wishon, which is in the mountains east of Coarsegold, next to Bass Lake. In April of that year he was charged with vehicle theft, and in May with vandalism of $5,000 or more in damage. In that incident, he was in a Napa County hospital as a patient, and began throwing furniture around. He was detained by hospital security before his arrest by Napa Sheriff’s deputies.

Thanks to the quick action by the Cal fire crews, no serious damage was done by the fires he is now accused of setting. Together with the Madera Sheriff’s office, highway Patrol and U.S. Forest Service, an investigation was launched and Lapschies was quickly arrested. “The cooperation of all these agencies was crucial to the outcome” said Karen Guillemin-Kanawyer of Cal Fire. The full investigation is ongoing.

CrimeVoice staff contributed to this story



Coarsegold Carpenter Causes Conflagration was last modified: October 6th, 2015 by admin
Categories: Madera

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Don Promnitz

Don Promnitz is a student and a writer for Crime Voice.