Three teenagers who authorities say were apparently playing with fireworks were charged Friday with starting one of two wildfires that burned along the Rio Grande north of downtown and drove hundreds of people from their homes.
An Arizona wildfire that devastated a mountaintop hamlet a week ago also was caused by people, officials said. But they said they do not know yet if it was deliberate.
Ricky Navarette, 16, Fernando Anaya, 13, and Steven Sedillo, 13, all of Albuquerque, were booked on arson and related charges. Sedillo also was charged with tampering with evidence.
The fire, which started Tuesday, was apparently sparked by fireworks, authorities said. A second fire that started about a mile away Wednesday night is still under investigation.
The popular riverside area is laced with trails and a bicycling path. Gov. Bill Richardson closed the area until July 4 to prevent more fires.
Some 400 firefighters battled the two fires Friday with help from water-dropping helicopters. All together, the fires had burned more than 500 acres. Residents returned to their homes Thursday.
"Since this is in the middle of the city, we are going to aggressively go in there and extinguish every ember," said fire incident commander Tim Sexton.
In Arizona, officials investigating a wildfire that destroyed more than 320 buildings in Summerhaven last week said that the blaze was caused by humans. Authorities said Friday they have interviewed about 50 people, but would not discuss what they were told.
The blaze has charred 32,700 acres since June 17 and was 50 percent contained Friday morning. Light winds and lightning were forecast Friday.
In California, a wildfire near Lake Isabella was 25 percent contained and about 200 homes and cabins were under evacuation orders Friday. The fire burned two homes Thursday in the community about 150 miles north of Los Angeles.
On the Net:
National Interagency Fire Center: http://www.nifc.gov
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