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Teens Arrested in Albuquerque Wildfire

June 27, 2003

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) _ Three teenagers have been charged with arson in the first of two wildfires that burned along the Rio Grande and drove hundreds of people from their homes north of downtown.

An Arizona wildfire that devastated a mountaintop hamlet also was caused by people, officials said, though they don’t yet know if it was deliberate.

Ricky Navarette, 16; Fernando Anaya, 13; and Steven Sedillo, 13, all of Albuquerque, were booked early Friday on charges of arson, conspiracy to commit arson and criminal damage to property over $1,000, police spokesman Jeff Arbogast said.

Sedillo also was charged with tampering with evidence, he said. Children’s court officials said the three are not expected to go before a judge before next week.

Investigators have not linked the Albuquerque fires, which were sparked about a mile apart Tuesday and Wednesday nights, but have not ruled out a connection, Mayor Martin Chavez said Thursday.

The Tuesday night fire burned 352 acres and was 75 percent contained Friday, fire department Lt. Lynn Ruele said. The second fire burned 165 acres and was 50 percent contained. Residents returned to their homes Thursday.

In Arizona, officials investigating a wildfire that destroyed about 345 buildings in Summerhaven last week said Thursday that the blaze was caused by humans. They do not yet know whether it was accidental or intentional, but have ruled out lightning and other natural factors.

The blaze has charred 32,700 acres since June 17 and was 50 percent contained Friday morning. Light winds and dry lightning were forecast for Friday.

In California, a wildfire near Lake Isabella was 60 percent contained and was considered still dangerous. About 150 homes and cabins were under evacuation orders Friday. The fire had burned two homes Thursday in the community about 150 miles north of Los Angeles.

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On the Net:

National Interagency Fire Center: http://www.nifc.gov/

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