Monument Fire: Origin of blaze tied to border

Posted: June 28, 2011 in Battlefield Arizona, Mexico: Failed State, Trans-Border Crime

The Border Patrol said Monday that one of its agents spotted flames in southern Arizona two weeks ago as the Monument Fire near the U.S.-Mexican border was beginning to grow.

Patrol spokesman Steve Adkinson said the agent who reported the fire June 12 wanted to try to extinguish it but realized it was already too big to fight.

The Border Patrol’s statement came after Cochise County Sheriff Larry Dever said he believed illegal immigrants started the fire near Sierra Vista.
 Dever had said a border agent had been pursuing a group of immigrants nearby when the fire broke out.

Adkinson said the agent wasn’t pursuing immigrants but was instead looking for footprints and other signs of illegal border crossers.

Federal investigators have declined to say who might have started the human-caused fire.

The fire was 85 percent contained as of Monday afternoon.

In the eastern part of the state, the Wallow Fire, the biggest in Arizona history, was 82 percent contained after burning 538,000 acres in the White Mountains.

Crews focused their suppression efforts on the southeastern portion of the blaze.

Near Heber-Overgaard, the Wash Fire was near full containment after burning about 2,000 acres in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests.

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