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The findings could have implications for future use of required fire to constrain the accumulation of dry vegetation amid a US Forest Administration moratorium on the practice.

It could also have an impact on complex discussions about immediate assistance and liability for a fire that spread across 486 square km and destroyed hundreds of structures.

Investigators said the Mandatory “pile burn” began in January in Gallinas Canyon in the Santa Fe National Forest outside Las Vegas, New Mexico, and finished in recent days.

A fire that started April 6 had been traced to a mandatory fire being set by firefighters to clear away small trees and shrubs that could fuel wildfires that had spiraled out of control.

On 9 April a further fire has been reported in that same area. Ten days later, the fire spun out of control due the dry, hot and windy weather as forest officials found.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham called the findings of the inquiry “first step toward the federal government taking full responsibility” for the fire in New Mexico.

Forest service chief Randy Moore announced last week a 90-day suspension and review of fire protocols to limit the build-up of burning vegetation that can lead to extremely hot and unmanageable wildfires.

Santa Fe National Forest

The Santa Fe National Forest is a protected national forest in northern New Mexico in the Southwestern United States. It was established in 1915 and covers 1,558,452 acres . Elevations range from 5, (wikipedia)