Arson suspected in fire damaging historic landmark at Joshua Tree National Park

Fire broke out Monday night at Joshua Tree National Park in California, damaging the Oasis of Mara.

Story highlights

  • The 2.5-acre fire largely affected the Oasis of Mara, the National Park Service says
  • Investigation underway as park service staff evaluate extent of damage at site

(CNN)Officials are opening an arson investigation into a fire at Joshua Tree National Park in Southern California.

The fire, which began Monday night, is under investigation by the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management and the San Bernardino County Fire Department, the park service said.
The 2.5-acre blaze largely affected the Oasis of Mara, which the park service calls the "cornerstone" of the park's story.
    The nature trail at the Oasis of Mara, which has been called the "cornerstone" of Joshua Tree's story.
    Legend has it that the Native American Serrano tribe, believed to have first settled the area, did so on the instructions of a medicine man, who told the tribe members to plant a palm tree each time a boy was born; they purportedly planted 29 their first year there.
    Dramatic photos taken by Steve Raines show a number of palm trees and other vegetation ablaze in the area.
    Park service staff are evaluating the extent of the damage to the site after the fire was contained. A preliminary assessment found that while no structures were damaged, there was damage to "multiple natural resources, including palms and other vegetation, and wildlife, as well as potential impact to archaeological resources."