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Man accused of starting wildfire in national wildlife preserve near Arizona-California border

Yuma County Courthouse
Posted at 3:01 PM, May 27, 2024

YUMA, Ariz. (AP) — A Yuma man has been arrested for allegedly starting a wildfire in a national wildlife preserve in southwest Arizona near the California border, according to authorities.

Yuma County Sheriff’s officials said 47-year-old Jason Bradley Martin remains jailed on suspicion of arson, criminal damage and other charges.

They announced Saturday night that Martin was identified as a suspect in the case and taken into custody. The county’s jail website didn’t list an attorney for Martin as of Sunday.

The wildfire was reported around 2 p.m. Saturday in the Imperial National Wildlife Refuge, which was established in 1941 to protect 30 miles (48 kilometers) of mostly wetland habitat along the Lower Colorado River.

Authorities said the blaze was 20% contained after burning nearly 2 square miles (5 square kilometers) of vegetation along the Arizona side of the Colorado River in Yuma County.

Multiple agencies, including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and federal Bureau of Land Management, responded to the scene to assist firefighting crews Saturday.