Investigation Into Wildfires Turns Criminal

The investigation into the Salt and South Fork wildfires has now truned criminal. The FBI said it’s offering 10-thousand dollar rewards for anyone with information about who might have started either fire. The federal agency also said it was seeking public assistance in identifying the cause of the fires discovered June 17 near the village of Ruidoso. Lincoln County Manager Randall Camp said at a news conference Saturday that “we are approaching a thousand homes lost” in the fires.

A declaration of major disaster was approved by the federal government late last week, which frees up funding and resources to help with recovery efforts, including temporary housing, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other emergency work.

Meanwhile, the National Interagency Fire Center said the South Fork Fire, which reached 26 square miles, was 31% contained Sunday. It said the Salt Fire that has spread over 12 square miles was now 7% contained.

Full containment isn’t expected until July 15, according to fire officials. More than 1,100 firefighters continued to fight the flames in steep and rocky terrain Sunday. The South Fork and Salt fires are still burning on both sides of Ruidoso and a threat of flash floods still looms over the village.

Ruidoso officials said those wanting to return home Monday must bring drinking water and at least a week’s worth of food. They warned residents that homes may be without gas, electricity or water.