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Contact: Jennie Albrinck, 760-367-5520
A Twentynine Palms man appeared in federal court yesterday afternoon on a federal charge alleging he illegally started the fire in the Oasis of Mara in Joshua Tree National Park on Monday night, March 26, 2018.
The fire damaged historic trees and other park resources in a 2.5-acre area behind the Oasis Visitor Center in Joshua Tree National Park. According to the criminal complaint filed Wednesday afternoon, National Park Service Law Enforcement Rangers arrested George William Graham, 26, of Twentynine Palms, at the scene of the fire.
Graham was observed watching the blaze and admitted to law enforcement officers that he started the fire. According to court records, Graham was known both to the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department and the National Park Service as a California arson parolee, with prior law-enforcement contacts with both state and federal authorities.
Federal prosecutors filed a criminal complaint against Graham, which charges him with unlawfully setting timber afire, a felony offense punishable by up to five years of imprisonment and a fine of up to $250,000. Graham is detained in federal custody pending his next court appearance on April 11, 2018. The ongoing investigation is being conducted by the National Park Service, with assistance from the United States Bureau of Land Management, the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department, and the San Bernardino County Fire Department.