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South Fork Fire caused by lightning, investigators say

RUIDOSO, New Mexico (KVIA) -- Investigators say lightning caused the South Fork Fire, which burned thousands of acres in and around Ruidoso.

"The identification of the point of origin and all evidence and data support lightning as the cause of the fire," a Bureau of Indian Affairs spokesperson stated Wednesday. "Human activity and factors did not contribute to the cause."

Wildland fire investigators, working with law enforcement officers with the Bureau of Indian Affairs; Office of Justice Services; Bureau of Land Management; USDA Forest Service; Mescalero Conservation Law Enforcement Department; Bureau of Alcohol; Tobacco; Firearms and Explosives; New Mexico State Parks; and the FBI, found that lightning started the wildfire June 17, 2024.

The South Fork Fire ended up burning 15,000 acres in the first 24 hours. It has since been contained to 17,569 acres at 87% containment.

Investigators are still looking into the cause of the nearby Salt Fire. The FBI is offering $10,000 for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of a possible suspect.

Together, the two wildfires caused mass evacuations in Ruidoso, Mescalero, and other nearby communities. After residents started returning and assessing the damage, flash flooding caused further damage.

Consider donating to help the survivors here.

Article Topic Follows: Ruidoso Wildfires

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