Little Bear fire destroys record number of homes
Posted at: 06/18/2012 9:02 PM
By: Marissa Torres, KOB Eyewitness News 4
New Mexico now has another record breaking fire. As of Sunday morning,emergency crews say the Little Bear Fire has destroyed the most homes in New Mexico history; beating out the Cerro Grande Fire that burned in 2000.
As a result, the U.S. Fire Service is getting heat from Lincoln County residents, who said crews did not get the flames under control soon enough.
Congressman Steve Pearce said he is going to lead an investigation into how federal policy effects fire service tactics during a wildfire. He held a public meeting in Ruidoso Sunday night to answer questions and address concerns from fire victims.
About a hundred people attended the meeting and say they are fed up with current U.S. Forest Service Policy and said it is time to fix a broken system.
"It's been hard, it's been difficult, and I know a lot of people have lost a lot, we're not the only ones by any means," said one resident who lost his home.
It is people like him who are desperate from answers and say they want to know why the Little Bear fire got so out of hand and why U.S. Forest Service officials did not stop it sooner.
Congressman Pearce said he agrees and wants to take the fight back to Washington D.C. He met with Chief Tom Tidwell Sunday and sai a lack in maintaining the forest over the past few decades is just one of the problems.
"Sitting with Mr.Tidwell, I said, well you just sit here, and you give us all the words that sound nice, but you still have fuel everywhere," Pearce said.
But it comes down to more than just thinning the forest. At the meeting, a Ruidoso councilman talked about his frustrations when local crews tried to protect their community. He said they tried to build a fire line, but U.S. Forest Service would not let them.
Pearce said there needs to be a balance between federal help and allowing local crews to save their own community. The congressman said he is also looking into a so-called "let it burn policy" that tells fire fighters not to try and save a home once it catches on fire.