New Mexico Forestry Division spokesman Dan Ware said Thursday he has not yet determined the cause.
But at the scene of the fire, Dennis Carril, a fire prevention technician with the U.S. Forest Service from Peñasco, said, “It had to be some kind of human source.”
Residents said they were told by local law enforcement that it may have been children playing with fireworks.
The fire was dubbed the Head Start Fire because it apparently started near a preschool in Holman. The fire, which broke out about noon Thursday, was burning on private land off N.M. 518 on Holman Hill in Holman, a community in western Mora County near the Taos County line. N.M. 518 was closed by the state police from the intersection of N.M. 76 near Peñasco to the east side of Holman.
The fire was 10 percent contained by about 5 p.m. and crews will be on the fire overnight, Ware said. He said a lot of resources were being used on the fire, which had burned about 20 acres.
Retardant drops by a single-engine plane had slowed the fire, although there was still a lot of heat in the interior, said Ware.
The fire was burning in mixed conifer trees with small meadows in between, and there are several homes and ranches in the area south of N.M. 518. About seven structures were considered to be potentially threatened by the fire. North of the road is heavily forested.
“It was starting to push uphill” when his crew arrived, Carril said. “It was doing some torching, and it hit a ridge and slowed down.”
Local firefighters were called out, and one, Willie Cruz, said the fire was burning on his property.
The flames “were cooking big time,” said Sammy Chavez, another local firefighter.
Photo Credit – andy stiny/for the journal
Cutline – Federal, state and local agencies are on the scene fighting the Head Start Fire in Holman, Mora County, Thursday afternoon.