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Firefighter Charged With Arson in Nevada

January 20, 2006

RENO, Nev. (AP) _ A firefighter was indicted Thursday on federal arson charges for three wildfires that burned hundreds of acres of national forest in central Nevada this summer.

Mark E. Morgan, 34, was working temporarily as a member of a U.S. Bureau of Land Management crew. He’s accused of setting the fires in August in Lander County about 170 miles east of Reno, agency officials said.

Morgan, of Reno, faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each of three counts if convicted, U.S. Attorney Daniel Bogden said.

A federal grand jury returned the indictment Wednesday, but prosecutors did not make it public until late Thursday.

Morgan has made arrangements to turn himself in Monday before an appearance in Reno federal court, a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney’s office said.

There is no telephone listing for a Mark E. Morgan in Reno.

Two miles of fence burned in one of the fires, but no injuries were reported. The fires also destroyed pinion pine trees, which produce pine nuts that American Indians and others secure federal permits to sell, Forest Service spokeswoman Christie Kalkowski said.

She would not comment on what led authorities to Morgan.

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