June 20, 2012 News Release
Contact: Dan Ware – Fire Prevention and Outreach Program Manager
Investigators Determine Cause of CR 4901 and Turley Fires
SANTA FE, NM— An investigation by New Mexico State Forestry and San Juan County has determined the causes of both the CR 4901 (aka Blanco) and Turley Fires, which destroyed several homes and burned more than 350 acres this week near the community of Blanco, according to New Mexico State Forestry Resource Protection Bureau Chief Donald Griego.
Investigators believe the 352-acre CR 4901 Fire was caused by an illegal, abandoned campfire that was burning on land operated by the New Mexico Game and Fish Department. The fire burned 352 acres and destroyed 5 residences and 12 outbuildings.
Investigators found evidence of the abandoned campfire along the San Juan River bosque near tall, dry vegetation. High winds in the area quickly pushed the fire into taller salt cedar, Russian olive and cottonwood trees and then on to nearby homes.
“The campfire that resulted in the CR 4901 Fire violated current state fire restrictions and those responsible could face stiff fines and other penalties if convicted,” said Griego. “Fire danger is very high and New Mexicans must take responsibility for following the law and not starting fires.”
Those found guilty of violating State Fire restrictions face a $1,000 fine, 364 days in jail or both. Anyone with information about the CR 4901 Fire is asked to contact New Mexico State Forestry Law Enforcement Agent Shawn Beck at 505-827-0503 or the San Juan County Fire Department at 505-334-1180.
The three-acre Turley Fire destroyed one residence and was caused by engine exhaust particles that flew into a drainage ditch filled with grass, dead leaves and cottonwood seeds along a well-traveled residential road.
“I’m very appreciative of the quick and professional work done by our firefighters and the fire investigators with the Division and San Juan County,” said Griego. “We deeply value the relationships we have with our local government agencies.”