Officials say woman set 12 fires in the bosque Wednesday morning - Albuquerque Journal

Officials say woman set 12 fires in the bosque Wednesday morning

Fire crews from several different agencies jumped into action Wednesday morning after officials say a woman who appeared to be suffering from a mental illness lit 12 fires across 5 acres in the bosque south of the National Hispanic Cultural Center.

She was taken into custody near Second and Woodward SW.

An Albuquerque Police Department spokesman said Cristina Castorena-Noble, 46, will be booked into jail on charges of battery on a peace officer and arson once she is medically cleared. She was taken to the hospital for a mental health evaluation.

When reached by the Journal on Wednesday evening, Castorena-Noble’s daughter and mother said she had an extremely hard life marked by tragedy, abuse, the death of her brother and son, and drug and alcohol abuse.

They said that when they heard about the fires, they had worried she might be responsible and recalled that she had previously been charged with setting fires in May 2020. At that time, she told authorities and her family several different stories about why she did it, including that God told her to.

That case, as well as many other misdemeanor and felony cases, was dismissed when Castorena-Noble was found to be incompetent.

“I had her living with me for about nine months, since she got out of jail in May 2021,” said Castorena-Noble’s daughter, Breanna Noble. “She was doing a great job. She has a tendency to be naturally loving and caring. She tried to get clean and stay clean, and get help.”

But her mother ended up relapsing and soon became homeless again, Noble said.

Wednesday’s fires highlight the dangers the approximately 20-mile-long riparian forest faces due to extremely dry conditions.

But Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller stressed that the city is not going to close the area to the public and it’s actually safer to have people around who can call in suspicious activity.

“That’s time and time again been proven much more effective than closing the bosque,” Keller said at a briefing at the scene. “Because it’s obviously very hard to actually maintain that perimeter. What we want is more people using it, coming down here and calling right away if they see anything.”

That’s exactly what happened Wednesday.

Albuquerque Fire Rescue Chief Gene Gallegos said a family walking in the area and a school resource officer made the call around 9:15 a.m. saying they saw “the individual starting the fire” and that “the person was going south and continued to light spot fires.”

APD’s helicopter unit also saw Castorena-Noble setting fires, and helped officers find her and take her into custody, according to a police spokesman.

Gallegos said AFR and Bernalillo County Fire Department had 16 crews on scene, and a crew from Oregon — on standby due to the current fire conditions — also responded. He said there were a total of 70 personnel working in the bosque and the fires were under control by noon.

“We’re just mopping up the entire area so that we can prevent it from getting bigger and spreading any more,” Gallegos said, adding that Bernalillo County’s Metro One air unit was dropping water on hot spots.

He said crews will also be on patrol in the area through at least September.

Keller said AFR has two units helping to fight the massive fires up north. But he said they did not send everything in terms of the wildland resources because they also wanted to be able to protect the bosque, open space and foothills area.

“I think it’s just a credit to planning and management, to leadership in our fire departments, to make sure that we can do anything we can up north, but also make sure we can protect the bosque,” Keller said. “And that’s exactly what we’ve done today.”

Carlos Hernandez, 70, was running on the bosque trails when he saw the fire and, along with another man, attempted to put it out.

He then saw police rush past him and take a woman into custody. Hernandez said it was sad to see the fire, and he urged everyone to be alert and careful.

“New Mexico is beautiful, but with all the fires and everything,” Hernandez said. “It’s a beautiful place, there’s a lot of wildlife out here. When I saw the fire, I was thinking of all the porcupines, the animals.”

Journal staff photographer Adolphe Pierre-Louis contributed to this report.

Home » ABQnews Seeker » Officials say woman set 12 fires in the bosque Wednesday morning

Insert Question Legislature form in Legis only stories

Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email

taboola desktop

ABQjournal can get you answers in all pages


Questions about the Legislature?
Albuquerque Journal can get you answers
Email addresses are used solely for verification and to speed the verification process for repeat questioners.
Rio Rancho police shoot, kill person after confrontation at ...
ABQnews Seeker
Rio Rancho Police officers shot and ... Rio Rancho Police officers shot and killed somebody during a confrontation at an apartment complex shortly after midnight Tuesday.
'It's been a great ride': Longtime Balloon Fiesta executive ...
ABQnews Seeker
Longtime Balloon Fiesta executive director is ... Longtime Balloon Fiesta executive director is retiring
California is lone holdout in Colorado River cuts proposal
ABQnews Seeker
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) -- Six Western ... FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) -- Six Western states that rely on water from the Colorado River have agreed on a model to dramatically cut water ...
New Mexico faces a budget abyss if oil and ...
ABQnews Seeker
Report predicts $36 billion revenue deficit ... Report predicts $36 billion revenue deficit in 15 years possible
Senate panel, on party-line vote, approves bill increasing minimum ...
ABQnews Seeker
A push to increase the minimum ... A push to increase the minimum age to buy certain firearms from 18 to 21 cleared its first Senate hurdle Monday, after a heated ...
Bill aimed at bolstering NM's patchwork rural health care ...
ABQnews Seeker
A proposal to tap New Mexico's ... A proposal to tap New Mexico's revenue windfall to bolster health care services in rural parts of the state where residents frequently have to ...
New Mexico bill to restrict lobbyist ‘revolving door’ advances
ABQnews Seeker
A proposal moving through the Senate ... A proposal moving through the Senate would prohibit former legislators and appointees working under the governor from returning immediately to the Roundhouse as paid ...
New Mexico’s checkerspot butterfly placed on Endangered Species List
ABQnews Seeker
With more Sacramento Mountains checkerspot butterflies ... With more Sacramento Mountains checkerspot butterflies being raised at the ABQ BioPark than found in the wild, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is ...
No drama for birthday llama: ABQ llama celebrates 27th ...
ABQnews Seeker
'This llama is bringing everyone together,' ... 'This llama is bringing everyone together,' says family friend