FBI Albuquerque
Office of Public Affairs
(505) 889-1300
July 3, 2024

South Fork Fire in New Mexico Caused by Lightning Strike

MESCALERO, NM—Wildland fire and law enforcement investigators completed the investigation into the cause of the South Fork Fire. The identification of the point of origin and all evidence and data support lightning as the cause of the fire. Human activity and factors did not contribute to the cause.

The investigation was conducted by wildland fire investigators and law enforcement officers from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Office of Justice Services, Bureau of Land Management, U.S.D.A. Forest Service, Mescalero Conservation Law Enforcement Department, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, New Mexico State Parks, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The fire was reported June 17th, burning on the Mescalero Apache Reservation near the community of Ruidoso on Tribal trust land administered by the BIA Mescalero Agency. Despite an aggressive response by multiple agencies, high wind spread the fire to over 15,000 acres within the first 24 hours. As of July 3, the fire is 17,569 acres and 87 percent contained.

The cause of the nearby Salt Fire remains under investigation. The FBI is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for starting the Salt Fire. Anyone who may have information pertaining to its cause is encouraged to either call 1-800-CALL-FBI, or text a detailed anonymous tip to “BIAMMU” (mobile number 847411). Tips may also be submitted online at tips.fbi.gov.

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