U.S. Forest Service Admits Errors in New Mexico Burn

Fire has consumed more than 340,000 acres. 

The Hermits Peak Fire in New Mexico has been reviewed by the U.S. Forest Service which has determined that errors occurred during a routine prescribed burn.  The fire is now the largest wildfire in New Mexico history. 

The review found that years-long backlog of projects owing to department furloughs during the 2018-2019 government shutdown, complications of working from home during the Covid-19 pandemic, and an injunction related to the Mexican Spotted Owl all restricted the Forest Service’s ability to thin trees and conduct prescribed burns in the years prior to spring 2022. 

That string of events “built a sense of urgency to accomplish projects to ‘catch up,'” the Forest Service stated. “These expectations, coupled with the opportunity to implement during a narrow window when the crew was available, smoke dispersion was good and the prescribed fire area was forecasted to be in prescription, led to acceptance of unforeseen risk.” 

The report acknowledges that the prescribed fire that ultimately started the Hermits Peak fire – which has burned more than 340,000 acres in three counties since April 6 and was 72% contained as of Tuesday – was done “according to current standards and policy,” but several other factors increased the probability of an escaped prescribed fire. 

As the Lord Leads, Pray with Us…

  • For U.S. Forest Service officials as they address issues and challenges surrounding forest management.
  • For wisdom for Chief Randy Moore as he heads the USDA’s Forest Service.
  • For residents and leaders in New Mexico as they seek to recover from the wildfires.

Sources: CNN, New York Times


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