Arizona man accused of starting fire in wildlife refuge near California border

May 28, 2024, 9:31 AM | Updated: May 29, 2024, 7:51 am

PHOENIX — An Arizona man was arrested and accused of starting a wildfire in a nature refuge over the weekend, authorities said.

Jason Bradley Martin, 47, allegedly started the large fire in the Imperial National Wildlife Refuge, according to the Yuma County Sheriff’s Office.

The Refuge Fire grew to 1,037 acres and was 20% contained as of Monday.

Deputies responded to the area around 2 p.m. on Saturday, according to the Yuma County Sheriff’s Office.

Multiple agencies in the area responded to fight the fire, including Lake Martinez Fire and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The Bureau of Land Management, Rural Metro and Yuma Proving Ground Fire also joined the fight to protect the wildlife refuge.

Arson suspect accused of starting Refuge Fire arrested on multiple counts

Authorities arrested Martin and booked him on multiple counts, including:

  • Reckless burning
  • Arson of structure/property
  • Criminal damage
  • Burning of wildlands
  • Endangerment

The arson case is still under investigation. The Yuma County Sheriff’s Office encouraged anyone with helpful information to call 928-783-4427. They can also call 78-CRIME for anonymity.

What is the Imperial National Wildlife Refuge?

The Imperial National Wildlife Refuge is around 40 miles north of Yuma, near the Arizona-California border. Migratory birds as well as several endangered and threatened species rely on the 25,768-acre refuge.

It protects 30 miles of wildlife habitat along the lower Colorado River, according to the refuge’s website.

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Arizona man accused of starting fire in wildlife refuge near California border