McCain 'puzzled' by anger over wildfire remark

June 21, 2011 - 7:30 AM
Western Wildfires

Thomas Tidwell, of the Forest Service, left, briefs Sen. John McCain, Sen. Jon Kyl, Rep. Jeff Flake, in the forest surrounding Alpine, Ariz. Saturday, June 18, 2011 during a tour of the burned areas of the Wallow Fire. The fire has burned more than 500,000 acres in eastern Arizona. (AP Photo/The Arizona Republic, Tom Tingle) MARICOPA COUNTY OUT; MAGS OUT; NO SALES

WASHINGTON (AP) — Sen. John McCain says he's "puzzled" that there's a controversy surrounding remarks he made suggesting illegal immigrants were responsible for some of the massive wildfire in eastern Arizona.

McCain tells NBC's "Today" show all he was doing was repeating information he'd been given by federal officials at a briefing that occurred before he appeared at a news conference last weekend.

McCain said in an interviewTuesday, "We all know that people who come across our border illegally ... that these fires are sometimes, some of them, caused by this." He said "I'm puzzled .. that there should be any controversy."

McCain earlier had said that illegal immigrants "have set fires because they wanted to signal others ... and they have set fires because they wanted to divert law enforcement agents."