Two New Mexico wildfires now merged into the single biggest blaze in the state’s history were both started by a federal government agency, officials admitted Friday.
Both blazes were sparked by “pile burns,” fires set to get rid of wood and debris from thinning and reforestation projects, the Albuquerque Journal reported. Although those fires are meant to be controlled burns, in both cases they have raged out of the control of the Santa Fe National Forest Service. The two wildfires, the Calf Canyon Fire and the the Hermits Peak Fire, have now merged. Between them, they have burned more than 312,00 acres and destroyed nearly 800 structures, including hundreds of homes.
“The Santa Fe National Forest is 100 percent focused on suppressing these fires with the support of the Type 1 incident management teams who are fully prepared to manage complex, all-risk situations,” SFNF supervisor Debbie Cress said. “Our commitment is to manage the public lands entrusted to us by improving the forest’s resilience to the many stressors they are facing, including larger, hotter wildfires, historic levels of drought, rising temperatures, and insects and disease.”