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Jun 27, 2011 4:19 PM

Border Patrol: Agent spotted fire near border

SIERRA VISTA, Ariz. (AP) - The Border Patrol says one of its agents had spotted a wildfire in southern Arizona as the blaze near the U.S.-Mexico border was beginning to grow.

Border Patrol spokesman Steve Adkinson says the agent who reported the fire wanted to extinguish it but realized it was too big to fight.

The Border Patrol's statement comes after Cochise County Sheriff Larry Dever said he believes immigrants started the 47-square-mile Monument Fire near Sierra Vista, Ariz.

Dever had said a border agent had been pursuing a group of illegal immigrants nearby when the fire broke out on June 12.

Adkinson says the agent wasn't pursuing immigrants but was instead looking for footprints and other signs of illegal border-crossers.

Investigators declined to say whether the human-caused fire was started by immigrants.

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