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BLM Offering Reward for Information on Laguna Fire

The Sun

May 25, 2011

Yuma, Ariz. — After determining the 751 acre Laguna fire to be human caused, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management is offering a $10,000 reward to the public for information that leads to a conviction.

“Right now, it’s under investigation to determine who started it and whether it was accidental or intentional,” BLM information officer Pamela Mathis said Monday. “But regardless (of intent), if you cause a fire, you are still responsible for it.”

Anyone with information concerning the fire can call 1-800-47-ARSON or visit the web site

As of Monday afternoon, the Laguna fire was 90 percent contained, but officials stressed that containment is not synonymous with controlled or extinguished.

“What containment means is we have a strong, deep line around the fire and it is unlikely to jump,” said Mathis. “But the fire is still burning strong in three separate areas in the containment zone and is likely to keep burning over the next several days and may even spread within in the zone.”

Monday’s high winds in the Yuma area exacerbated the fire and forced the agency to push back their target date for full containment to Tuesday.

“The winds provide oxygen to smoldering trees to reignite them and then they have the potential to spread hot embers over large areas, creating a new set of problems for emergency workers,” Mathis said.

As firefighters battle the fire over the next several days Yuma residents can expect to see black plumes of smoke billowing from the containment zone as new areas ignite and are extinguished. Also, an increase in haziness can be expected in the mornings which will slowly dissipate into the afternoon.

As for road closures, BLM will ask the sheriff to open 7E shortly after they declare 100 percent containment, but the areas surrounding Mittry Lake and Betty’s Kitchen recreational areas will remain closed indefinitely until BLM has the opportunity to assess the damage to those sites.

“(At those sites) there are a lot of structural integrity issues: damaged trees which could fall, bridges weakened, and other structures affected by the fire need to be cleared before normal activity resumes,” Mathis said.

BLM asks residents to avoid the Mittry Lake and Laguna Dam areas until the agency opens the area to the public.

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