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Lightning strike responsible for forest fire in New Mexico that killed 2 people and damaged 1,400 buildings

AP

RUIDOSO, NM (AP) — A lightning strike caused the larger of two wildfires that have killed at least two people and destroyed or damaged more than 1,400 structures in New Mexico, authorities said Wednesday.

The South Fork Fire on the Mescalero Apache Reservation was first reported on June 17 and required the evacuation of the village of Ruidoso.

The wildfire is now 87% contained after burning more than 27 square miles, and parts of the village have been evacuated again due to recent flash flooding.

The fire was investigated by eight agencies, including the FBI, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Bureau of Land Management and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

The fire’s origin location, as well as evidence and data, indicated the cause of the fire was a lightning strike, investigators said.

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Meanwhile, authorities said the cause of the nearby Salt Fire remains under investigation. The fire has burned more than 12 square miles and was 84% ​​contained as of Wednesday.

The FBI is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person(s) responsible for starting the wildfire.

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