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Kern County jury convicts Oildale man of arson

A Kern County jury convicted an Oildale man of assault and felony arson Tuesday.

The jury found Jesse Burnham guilty of felony charges for arson of an inhabited structure and assault with a deadly weapon, according to a news release from the Kern County District Attorney’s Office.

The arson occurred after Burnham’s roommate accused him of being loud and disrespectful on Sept. 11, 2020, the release stated. When the roommate and his girlfriend went to sleep, the release says a neighbor reported seeing Burnham move his belongings outside of the house and pour gasoline on the side of the house where his roommate was sleeping.

Burnham set the gasoline on fire, according to the release, and the people inside awoke to heat and smoke. The release says the roommate put the fire out with a garden hose before anyone was injured.

Arson investigators later corroborated witness reports, according to the release.

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

Sentencing has been set for Dec. 17. Burnham faces more than 14 years in prison.

Coronavirus Cases widget

  • Positive Cases Among Kern Residents: 158,270

  • Deaths: 1,828

  • Recovered and Presumed Recovered Residents: 150,950 

  • Percentage of all cases that are unvaccinated: 92.04

  • Percentage of all hospitalizations that are unvaccinated: 92.62 Updated: 12/3/2021.

  • Source: Kern County Public Health Services Department