AG review: Forest Service response to Little Bear fire was prompt and complete
Posted at: 08/24/2012 12:43 PM
| Updated at: 08/24/2012 12:46 PM
By: Tracy Dingmann, KOB.com
An independent review by Attorney General Gary King’s office has found that the response by the U.S. Forest service to combat the Little Bear Fire was prompt and complete.
King assigned a special investigator to look into the firefighting effort following a complaint from an Alto resident who felt the USFS may have mismanaged the battle against the Little Bear Fire near Ruidoso earlier this summer.
The lightning-sparked Little Bear Fire burned through nearly 70 square miles and destroyed more than 240 homes and other structures.
It was the largest fire in recorded state history.
During and after the fire, KOB Eyewitness News' 4 On Your Side team looked into allegations that USFS policies kept firefighters from effectively protecting property and fighting the huge blaze.
In a letter to the complainant and officials at the USFS, the AG’s office wrote:
“The USFS responded to the fire in a prompt fashion. Substantial resources were committed to containing the fire, which unfortunately spread rapidly, despite the best efforts put out the fire. There is no evidence that anything other than a full fire suppression effort was made by the federal authorities tasked with fighting this massive fire. Under a time of emergency it is inevitable that rumors fly when a bad situation turns much worse.
Our office is confident that the public records of the USFS indicate that everything was done in an expeditious fashion to combat what would become the largest wildfire in New Mexico history...It is our belief that the USFS cooperated completely with [our investigator] and he had unfettered access to all necessary records and personnel. As a result of our investigation, this matter will be closed without further action on our part.”
Stay with KOB as we continue to follow this story.