Alleged Arsonist Pleads Guilty To Rim Country Fires

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The United States Attorney's Office has issued a criminal complaint against a 21-year-old year Camp Geronimo resident accused of setting two fires in the Tonto National Forest.

Charges were filed June 24 against Stuart Jason Orr for starting both the Girl and Bray fires in the vicinity of the Boy Scout camp located north of Payson.

Federal authorities do not currently consider Orr a suspect in any of the other man-caused fires in the state.

The complaint charges Orr with violating two counts of the United States code, entitled "timber set afire," which prescribes punishments for willfully setting fires on public lands.

A conviction carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison, a $250,000 fine or both, for each of the two counts.

Camp Geronimo Director Tom Walsh called the allegations that Orr set the fires shocking.

In Phoenix, Boy Scouts of America spokesman Jim Dolberg said he too was stunned by the allegations against Orr.

Orr had worked the past four summers at Camp Geronimo as a muzzle-loading director on the shooting range.

According to Dolberg, Orr must have had a good work record at Geronimo "or he would not have been hired back."

After the criminal complaint against Orr was issued, the suspect was arrested by U.S. Marshals and is being kept at an undisclosed location. According to Mike Johns of the Untied States Attorney's Office, Orr's location cannot be disclosed "because it is a security issue."

Orr's prosecution is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Roger Dokken of Phoenix.

In a statement of probable cause filed against Orr, Special Agent Pancho Smiththe case investigator wrote that on the afternoon of June 23, the suspect admitted setting both fires.

Orr allegedly set the first of the two fires June 20 on the south side of the Control Road. It was quickly discovered and suppressed by Tonto National Forest employees.

June 22, the report states, Forest Service employee Marty Rose discovered, reported and suppressed the Girl fire near the junction of Forest Road 32 and the Control Road. FR 32 leads to Washington Park where Rose lives.

According to Smith's report, Rose was traveling on FR 32 when he noticed a small truck driven by a single male traveling towards the Control Road. Minutes later, Rose spotted the fire on the west side of the road.

When contacted by the Payson Roundup Monday afternoon, Rose said he had been asked not to comment on the case.

Late in the evening of June 22, the report states, Patrol Captain Tom Lister and Rose located the truck that Rose had seen the night before traveling on FR 32. The truck was parked on Geronimo scout camp.

Lister praised Rose for being able to identify the truck, saying "he made a very good observation."

The following day, Smith conducted two interviews with Orr at Camp Geronimo

During the first interview, Orr admitted being on FR 32 but denied setting the fires.

During the second interview, Smith asked Orr to voluntarily accompany him to where the fires had been started. Orr complied and during the course of that interview admitted starting both fires with a disposable lighter, the report states.

Orr told Smith he tied the lighter to a rock and threw it into the lake at the Geronimo Scout Camp.

Federal authorities emphasize that a complaint is the method by which a person is charged with a criminal activity and has no inference of guilt.

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