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The Bureau of Land Management is investigating a suspicious fire that recently damaged a remote guard station in Utah's Bears Ears National Monument.

The incident occurred on Elk Ridge north of the twin Bears Ears Buttes in a spot known as Sweet Alice Spring, where scientists and BLM staff have stayed while conducting field work.

Officials declined to release details while the matter is under investigation. Damage to the cinder-box structure was discovered shortly before Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke arrival in Utah May 7 to tour Bears Ears as part of a review of 27 national monuments.

The fire was the third suspicious incident targeting remote BLM structures in the past year as hostility has mounted toward federal management of Utah's public lands.

Last year, someone may have attempted to burn down a guard station in Beef Basin, also in the new monument, whose Dec. 28 designation has sparked intense controversy, by leaving a stove on.

That incident, which left the building unscathed, remains under investigation, according to BLM spokeswoman Lisa Bryant, who declined to provide further details.

Also last year, an anti-federal militia leader, Bill Keebler of Stockton, was indicted in an undercover sting for allegedly trying to blow up a guard station in northern Arizona.

Keebler, who remains in federal custody, is awaiting trial in U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City. Twitter: @brianmaffly