New Orleans Firefighters Charged With Setting Fires in National Wildlife Refuge

| by Sarah Fruchtnicht
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Two New Orleans firefighters were charged in federal court for setting fires in the marsh of Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge.

A pilot with the Louisiana Department of Agriculture spotted brothers Ryan Burlett, 34, and Damien Burlett, 39, setting fires in the New Orleans east wetlands, according to the office of U.S. Attorney Dana Boente.

On Feb. 9, 2010, the pilot responded to a plume of smoke over the wetlands. He saw two men leaving the area the fire on a small boat.

The pilot followed them and took photographs as they lit two more fires in the marsh before return to the dock of a Venetian Isles camp, according to the Times-Picayune. The photographs were handed over to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

When Fish and Wildlife agents confronted the brothers, they admitted to being the individuals in the photographs.

Both were suspended without pay, the NOFD told the Times-Picayune on Thursday evening.

If convicted, they could face up to a year in jail and a $100,000 fine for setting illegal fires.

Sources: Times-Picayune, WVUE