Oildale man found guilty of setting house on fire after dispute with roommate

Crime Watch

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BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — An Oildale man was convicted Friday of setting his house on fire after an argument with a roommate.

A jury convicted Jesse Burnham of arson of an inhabited structure and assault with a deadly weapon. He faces up to 14 years and four months in prison at his Dec. 17 sentencing hearing.

At 5 a.m. on Sept. 11, 2020, Burnham, 37, and the roommate had a confrontation over Burnham acting loud and disrespectful, prosecutors said. The roommate went back to sleep.

A few hours later, a neighbor saw Burnham moving his personal belongings out of the house.

Burnham then walked to the side of the house where the roommate and his girlfriend were sleeping, poured gasoline on the wall and ignited it with a torch lighter, according to prosecutors. The roommate and girlfriend awoke, and the roommate managed to put out the blaze with a garden hose.

Kern County Fire investigators determined the fire was “willfully and maliciously set,” prosecutors said.

“Arson crimes endanger entire communities, and the destruction that can be wrought from intentional fires cannot be understated,” District Attorney Cynthia Zimmer said in a news release. “The threat from intentional arson is particularly serious when fire is used as a weapon to intentionally endanger victims.”

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