NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – Authorities are conducting an active arson investigation as a result of several intentional fires that were set in the bosque and have caused destruction and have killed and injured wildlife in the area. The New Mexico State Fire Marshal’s Office reports that the department along with the Valencia County Sheriff’s Office, Valencia County Fire Department, and New Mexico State Police are conducting the investigation.
The Fire Marshal’s Office states that about 18 intentionally set wildland fires have occurred in the bosque in the Valencia County District since around March 2020. “We’ve had fires in the bosque on all four corners, northeast, northwest, southeast, southwest. We feel, looking at the evidence, that these fires are most likely human-caused and that’s the direction the investigation is taking,” said Rob Barr, Valencia County Wildland Captain.
The State Fire Marshal said they do have people of interest and are working with the Valencia County District Attorney. The Fire Marshal also said several animals like porcupines who live in the trees have been hurt or killed in the fires.
He pointed out that homeless people often set up camp in the bosque however, the fires are not believed to be caused by homeless camps though they could put people who stay in the bosque in grave danger. Currently, Albuquerque Fire Rescue is not involved in the Fire Marshal’s investigation but the state says there are similarities between the Valencia County fires and the bosque fires in Albuquerque.
The New Mexico State Fire Marshal’s Office has been tracking several arsonists in the area in an effort to end this behavior. Investigating agencies are concerned that these fires can get out of control and could possibly spread into residential and business areas. New Mexico’s severe drought conditions make fire suppression efforts difficult and also take community resources to combat these incidents.
The State Fire Marshal’s Office reports that to date, the fires have cost over $75,000 in suppression operations including the use of helicopters to drop water on the blazes. Authorities are now asking the community for help in identifying the individuals responsible for these bosque fires. Anyone with information is asked to contact Crime Stoppers at 505-843-7867 or the New Mexico State Fire Marshal’s Office at 505-827-8080.