Fire in Joshua Tree National Park Damages Historical Landmark

The fire late Monday damaged the Oasis of Mara and is being investigated as arson.

A fire broke out late Monday within Joshua Tree National Park, damaging a historical landmark site settled by Native Americans. The fire is being investigated as arson by the National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management and San Bernardino Fire, according to the National Park Service.

The suspected arson fire damaged the historical landmark Oasis of Mara, a site settled by Native Americans who planted the 29 palm trees that eventually inspired the name of the nearby town Twentynine Palms.

According to CNN, “The Native American Serrano tribe, believed to have first settled the area, did so on the instructions of a medicine man, who told the tribe members to plant a palm tree each time a boy was born; they purportedly planted 29 their first year there.”

That site sits directly behind the Joshua Tree Oasis Visitor Center and Joshua Tree National Park Headquarters. The fire was approximately two-and-a-half-acres in size and damaged “multiple natural resources, including palms and other vegetation and wildlife, as well as potential impact to archaeological resources,” according to NPS.

Photographer and Twentynine Palms resident Steve Raines captured shots of the blaze and posted them to Facebook.

“It’s a piece of history,” Raines told NBC Los Angeles. “It’s always heartbreaking seeing something like that go up in flames.”

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