High winds spread the fire, although firefighters said it was contained in an approximately one-square-mile area. The conflagration damaged the palm trees, other vegetation, and possibly the site’s archeological items, the Associated Press reported.
The Serrano people planted 29 palm trees in the desert oasis, and the plantings lent their name to the adjacent city of Twentynine Palms.
According to the National Park Service, 140,000 people visit the site each year. Located near the parks main entrance, the Oasis of Mara included a visitor’s center and nature trails through the relatively dense vegetation.
Yesterday a suspect was taken into custody in connection with the fire. Police arrested Twentynine Palms resident George William Graham, who was charged with “unlawfully setting timber afire.”