This story was updated Thursday, April 26 at 11:45 a.m.
A Taos County resident burning brush along his irrigation ditch sparked a fire near Vadito Wednesday afternoon (April 18) that burned a mobile home, garage, vehicles and sheds before firefighters were able to contain the blaze.
The man was burning along the acequia to clean it even though Taos County has a burn ban in effect until at least May 1 due to exceptionally dry conditions.
“This is an example of why we have burn ban is in effect,” said Taos County manager Leandro Cordova. “With conditions as they are, it does not take much for a fire to get out of hand. We have used many resources to fight this fire, which could have been avoided if the burn ban had been followed.”
In total, 46 fire personnel from several departments responded to the fire around 3 p.m. According to Taos County Fire Chief Mike Cordova, the fire burned 4.67 acres, largely on Picuris Pueblo checkerboard land.
Crews were able to mostly suppress the blaze within a couple of hours, he said, athough a crew with the Bureau of Indian Affairs remained on-site until Thursday to put out hot spots.
The person who started the fire did not own the mobile home that burned, Cordova said. No one was in the residence at the time of the fire, he said. As of Friday (April 20), no one had been ticketed or criminally charged for starting the acequia fire.
In addition to the Taos County Fire Department, firefighters with the Town of Taos Volunteer Fire Department, Mora County, Rio Arriba County, Picuris Pueblo, the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service responded to the fire.
Taos County Public Works Department used their equipment to help extinguish hot spots, and Kit Carson Electric Co-op crews cut electricity to the property affected by the fire while maintaining power to surrounding residents.
The county manager praised the many responders. “We are grateful to the many entities that came together to keep this fire from becoming much worse,” he said.