Coconino Sheriff Deputies make arrest in Freeway Fire

Flagstaff, AZ—Coconino County Sheriff’s Deputies have arrested twenty five year-old James Duncan an individual who is currently in transit and who is originally from Mississippi, for one count of Reckless Burning a Class One Misdemeanor. Investigators believe Mr. Duncan was responsible for a one acre fire named the Freeway Fire.

On Thursday, May 24, 2013 at about 1122 am the Sheriff’s Office received a call from dispatchers assigned to the Northern District of the Arizona Department of Public Safety regarding a hitch hiker who was believed to have stated the Freeway Fire.

The Freeway Fire was a one-acre fire on the north side of I-40 just west of the Bellemont rest stop.

According to the DPS Dispatcher one of their Officers had visual contact with a hitchhiker who matched the description of an individual who was seen smoking in the area where a wild land fire ignited. DPS dispatchers received a cellular phone call from a passing motorist who observed the suspect sitting on a log on the shoulder of the West bound lanes of Interstate Highway I-40 in the area of Mile-Post 181 and smoking a lit cigarette.

When the Deputy arrived he and the DPS Officer made contact with the individual. The caller returned to the area and identified the subject as the same person he observed sitting on the log and smoking the cigarette. During an interview with the subject he admitted to sitting on the log and smoking a cigarette but denied causing the fire. United States Forest Service Firefighters identified the point of origin of the Freeway Fire to be the log where Duncan was seated or in very close proximity to the log.

James Duncan was arrested for one count of Reckless Burning and transported to the Coconino County Detention Facility located in Flagstaff, Arizona.

High winds and dry conditions have caused red flag conditions in Coconino causing fire restrictions to be put in place in the Kaibab and Coconino forests starting today.