Two blazes that grew into New Mexico’s largest ever wildfire were both started by the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), the agency said on Friday, prompting the state’s governor to demand the federal government take full responsibility for the disaster.
Forest Service investigators determined the Calf Canyon Fire was caused by a “burn pile” of branches that the agency thought was out but reignited on April 19, the Santa Fe National Forest said in a statement.
The combined blaze has so far torched over 312,320 acres (126,319 hectares) of mountain forests and valleys, an area approaching the size of greater London, and destroyed hundreds of homes.
From Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham:
The pain and suffering of New Mexicans caused by the actions of the U.S. Forest Service – an agency that is intended to be a steward of our lands – is unfathomable.
This is a first step toward the federal government taking full responsibility for the largest wildfire in state history, which has destroyed hundreds of homes, displaced tens of thousands of New Mexicans, and cost the state and local governments millions of dollars.
I appreciate the U.S. Forest Service assuming responsibility for the federal actions that caused this terrible crisis.
It is evident that the federal government must take a hard look at their fire management practices and make sure they account for a rapidly changing climate.
New Mexico and the West must take every precaution to prevent fires of this magnitude from occurring, especially as precipitation levels continue to decrease and temperatures rise.
The Calf Canyon/Hermits Peak fire has burned more than 312,000 acres and fire suppression costs to date exceed $132 million.
The U.S. Forest Service will now pay for 100% of those costs, which increase by around $5 million every day.
Right wingers, including Rep. Majorie Taylor Greene, are leaping on the news, blaming “the Biden regime” for the wildfires and not climate change.
Two blazes that grew into New Mexico’s largest ever wildfire were both started by the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), the agency said on Friday, prompting the state’s governor to demand the federal government take full responsibility for the disaster. https://t.co/PbRIN4jGIW
— Reuters Science News (@ReutersScience) May 27, 2022