Government Report Links Arizona Wildfires to Illegal Immigrants

By FELICIA FONSECA | November 22, 2011 | 9:00 AM EST

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — A study by Congress' investigative arm says 30 wildfires in Arizona's border region have been linked to illegal border crossers over five years.

Arizona Sen. John McCain says the study released to The Associated Press on Tuesday backs up statements he made this year that wildfires are sometimes caused by people who have crossed into the U.S. illegally.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office study, however, makes no mention of whether anyone was prosecuted for starting those fires and offers no hard evidence that immigrants were responsible.

The GAO looked at human-caused wildfires within 100 miles of the Arizona-Mexico border that topped 1 acre and resulted in investigative reports. The study found that 30 were suspected to have been caused by illegal border crossers between 2006 and 2010.