The Desert IndependentTM

Serving Blythe and the Desert Regions of the Southwest Since 2001


Manmade fire arrest

May 14, 2020

JOSHUA TREE, Calif – On Monday, May 11 at about 11:50 a.m., deputies from the San Bernardino County Sheriff - Morongo Basin Sheriff's Station, fire fighters from the San Bernardino County Fire Department, and officers from the California Highway Patrol responded to multiple 9-1-1 calls of a brush fire near Twentynine Palms Hwy and La Contenta Road.

In total, 76 fire personnel responded with 11 fire engines, two water tenders, and two bulldozers to fight the fire. Sheriff's Aviation assisted and conducted an aerial search for the suspect. When the fire was extinguished about six hours later, approximately 155 acres of wildlife habitat restoration area, belonging to the Mojave Desert Land Trust, were burned.

Deputies identified Michael Smith (43 of Joshua Tree) as a suspect and contacted him at his residence nearby. Smith was interviewed and subsequently arrested for unlawfully causing the fire. He was transported to the Morongo Basin Jail where he is currently being held on $25,000 bail.

Anyone with information related to this investigation is asked to contact the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department, Morongo Basin Station at (760)366-4175.

Persons charged with a crime are considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

Callers wishing to remain anonymous are urged to call the We-tip Hotline at 1-800-78-CRIME (27463) or you may leave information on the We-Tip Hotline at

 Get San Bernardino County Sheriff’s alerts. Sign up using your email address at

Please refer all comments to The Desert Independent's Facebook Page.

Contact Us    Advertising    Terms    Submit an Article    Have a News Idea?

Copyright © 2008-2020 All Rights Reserved, The Desert Independent, LLC