Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, NM)

Youths Focus Of Bosque Fire Inquiry.(State)

Byline: Chris Ramirez Journal Staff Writer

Mayor, Governor Say Leave Fireworks to the Professionals

The investigation into Tuesday's blaze along the Rio Grande is focused on a group of juveniles seen fleeing the bosque moments after fireworks were heard exploding, officials said Wednesday.

Officials are calling the 700-acre fire that hop-scotched along both sides of the Rio Grande a wake-up call that could easily have been catastrophic.

Both Gov. Bill Richardson and Albuquerque Mayor Martin Chavez on Wednesday urged New Mexicans to voluntarily refrain from using fireworks this summer.

"This is not the season for fireworks," Richardson said. "We have a crisis. We have a drought. We have an extremely dry season."

Nick Bakas, the city's Public Safety chief, said Albuquerque "dodged a serious bullet. It could have been a catastrophe. We could have lost 1,000 homes.

"There was no loss of life, and injuries were few and minor. ... It's a wake-up call, we faced catastrophe head-on and prevailed. …

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