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2 firemen accused of setting fires at Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge

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NEW ORLEANS (WAFB) -

Two firemen have been charged with setting fires to the Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge in February of 2012.

According to the U.S. District Attorney's office, 34-year-old Ryan Burlett and his 39-year-old brother Damien were spotted by a Louisiana Department of Agriculture pilot who was on patrol that day.

The pilot saw the smoke and flew to the refuge and saw a fire burning on a marsh patch, that is when he saw two men speeding away on a boat. 

The pilot began to follow the boat in an effort to identify them and photograph their activity.

As he followed their boat, the pilot witnessed the men start two more fires on marsh patches located within the Refuge. After setting those fires, the men drove their boat to a dock located behind a residence in the Venetian Isles subdivision.

The pilot turned over the photographs of the two men, their boat, and the Venetian Isles residence to agents with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services for further investigation. Through their investigation, the agents were able to identify Ryan and Damien Burlett as the two men who set the fires in the Refuge.

Agents interviewed the brothers at New Orleans Fire Department Station 31, where they both worked. They admitted they were the two individuals in the photographs the pilot took.

If convicted, each face a maximum term of one year in prison, a fine of $100,000, a maximum supervised release term of one year following any term of imprisonment, and a $25 special assessment fee.

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