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Though a scheduled update with Coyote residents went relatively smoothly Tuesday, they still had questions about why the fire was allowed to get this big in the first place.
Currently, the fire, known as the “Diego Fire” started about eight miles south of Coyote in late June. It is currently moving in a southwesterly direction and is at 3,600 acres and the Thursday morning update said it is 30 percent contained. So far, no property has been burned, but residents at the meeting were concerned about something more personal.
Apparently, Coyote residents at the meeting had Los Alamos on their minds. Many of them lived in the area all their lives, and flatly accused those in charge of managing the fire of endangering their pristine corner of the Jemez Mountains by way of incompetence and bureaucracy.
When one of the residents attempted to correct Incident Commander Richard Nieto on the date the fire started (some residents are claiming the fire started on the 24th, The U.S. Forest Service said the 25th or the 26th), Nieto steered the discussion back to what they are doing now to combat the fire since they assumed command from the U.S. Forest Service a couple of days ago.
“I do know that there is going to be a plan follow-up; they’re called after-action reviews,” he said to the audience. “Basically what they do is that they go back and determine how the fire started. For me personally, I’m not going to speculate on that, I’m only going to speak to what our team is tasked with right now, which is the suppression of this fire.”
After the meeting one resident, who did not want to give his name, expressed a theory about what may have happened.
“My opinion is (the district ranger) said ‘OK, if I spend some money now, it’s going to come back on me,” the resident said.
“I think it was a bureaucracy type of decision. Someone said ‘I don’t want to spend that kind of money because someone above me is going to say why did you spend that when the fire could have gone out by itself, when common sense should have dictated to put some serious effort into stopping this before this spirals out of control.”