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CRIT works to address fires affecting area
August 26, 2009

The CRIT Tribal Council is working with the local community to address some recent fires caused by arson or carelessness.

CRIT has joined area farmers in offering a total of $15,000 in reward money for information leading to the arrest of arsonists responsible for setting tens of thousands of dollars of hay on fire in late June.

Large amounts of hay were set at six different locations in the Parker valley June 26 and 27. One location alone lost an estimated $60,000 in hay in the fires.

The CRIT Fire Department responded to the fires and the CRIT Police Department immediately launched an investigation, which the CRIT Tribal Council considers a high priority.

Area farmers met with members of the Tribal Council immediately after the events took place and pledged $10,000 in reward money, with CRIT offering another $5,000.

“It is very important to all Tribal members that the farmers who lease and farm our lands are successful, so when something like this happens we must react quickly and forcefully,” said Tribal Chairman Eldred Enas.

“These are our lands and our livelihood is at stake, and we will not allow vandals and arsonists to have a negative impact on the well-being of our people. Our law enforcement is working diligently to find the perpetrators of these crimes and bring them to justice as soon as possible.”

Enas encouraged anyone with information on these crimes to contact the CRIT Police Department at (928) 669-1386. The reward will be given after convictions to anyone who has information leading to the arrest of the criminals.

“Anyone with information can be helpful in making sure these crimes do not take place again,” Enas said. “It’s a very important matter and those who help us are doing their people and their community a great service.”

CRIT has formed a Task Force to deal with the crimes and related issues, such as making sure hay is stacked in appropriate places on area farms.

CRIT is also working closely with area farmers on the investigation and in efforts to prevent similar crimes from happening again.

Additionally, the CRIT Fire Department and outside agencies were forced to fight a fire that started on July 4 near the Aha’khav Tribal Preserve.

The Bureau of Indian Affairs, Fire Management designated the fire as the “Deer Fire” due to its proximity to Deer Island. It consumed more than 400 acres, but with no loss of structures. The vegetation loss was primarily salt-cedar trees and plants.

The preliminary determination for the cause of the fire was the “use of fireworks by residents in the Big River area.” Preliminary investigative information was provided by the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Office, which was provided to the Bureau of Indian Affairs Wildland Fire Arson Investigator.

A criminal investigation into the origin of the fire is currently being conducted by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, with assistance provided by CRIT Law Enforcement Services and the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Office.

At its maximum height, the fire projected 60-80 foot fire flames, with temperatures consistently remaining around 115 degrees.

The CRIT Chairman, Council Members, and Community are thankful and appreciative for the response and commitment of all emergency Wildland Fire personnel in protecting and preserving the resources of the Tribes.

The Tribal Council and Tribal Departments remain committed to ensure all fires committed on the reservation are investigated and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law when applicable.

In conjunction with local Farmers and the Tribal Council, rewards up to $15,000 are available to anyone with information on fires or crimes related to arson.

Contact CRIT Law Enforcement Services at (928) 669-1386, or the Anonymous Tips Hotline (928) 669-5341. “We need your information, not your name.”

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