An unprecedented rash of arson fires in the Corrales Bosque Preserve is threatening the beloved forest along the river and nearby homes. “We have had a total of seven fires in the bosque on two separate days,” Corrales Fire Department’s Tanya Lattin told Corrales Comment October 18. No evidence was found to suggest any of the blazes was caused accidentally by campers or squatters. In Mayor Jo Anne Roake’s message to villagers days before, she flatly stated, “Corrales has an arsonist in the Bosque. Numerous fires have been started in the last week. The Corrales Fire Department has successfully responded to each one, helped by neighboring first responder organizations.” Lattin said a fire Thursday, October 8 was discovered near the bridge over the Riverside Drain at the end of Andrews Lane. She described that one as a small fire about 200 feet by 200 feet in area.

Then on Friday, October 9, two fires were set more or less at the same time near the Dixon Road entrance to the preserve, near the levee, burning a total of about a half-acre. On Wednesday, October 14, “We had a total of four fires all burning during the same time, two of them were near the Romero Road access to the bosque, and two were approximately two miles south of Romero.” About two acres were burned near the river while a lesser area was ignited closer to the levee.

Two fires were started near the end of Paseo de Dulcelina between the river and the levee. “There was no evidence of any illegal camp fires in the area of any of the fires. Corrales fire and police, along with Sandoval County Sheriff’s officers, have increased patrols in the bosque.

“We are asking for anyone in the bosque to be sure and report any smoke or fires,” Lattin added. “We are asking anyone in the area of these fires that may have any information to call 898-7585 so we can contact them.” Lattin said there has been no indication that any of the fires were caused by lightning strikes “so these fires are human-caused.”

The Fire Department battalion commander offered the following guidance for villagers who might be in the preserve. “Your safety while in the bosque is number one. If you decided to go out and do a patrol, take a cell phone, let someone know where you are going,  stay on trails, do not get into thick areas that can cause you to get turned around or trapped if you run into a fire.

“If you smell smoke in the bosque, please call 911. Do not call the fire station; calling the station can delay our response.  We are not always in the office to answer the phone, and when we are, we have to gather the information from you that dispatch normally would get and cannot start our response to the emergency. Dispatch can reach us no matter where we are and get important information from you while we are heading to the call.”

If a villager encounters a situation that should be reported, Lattin said it would be very helpful if the person raising the alert could state the location accurately. She pointed out that mile-marker signs are painted on standing galvanized silver-colored vents along the west side of the levee. “Try to keep in your mind how far you have traveled from your entry point.

“If you have a smart phone, your mapping application will help you determine your location in the bosque and its relationship to roads within Corrales.  Knowing where you are helps get emergency responders to you in case of an emergency.

“If you see flames or smoke, call 911. Make sure you get to a safe area and leave your phone on. Responders may call you for more information after dispatch has completed their questioning.

“The bosque is extremely dry and weather is still unusually warm.  Thanks to people reporting these fires early, we have been able to control them quickly, but someone has to report them while small for our best chance of preventing a large fire,” Lattin said.

“Just know Corrales Fire is taking this very seriously and we are doing extra patrols. The Corrales police department has issued extra patrols and has officers in the bosque, and Sandoval County sheriff's officers are also in there patrolling.”

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