Navajo police investigate brush fires

County officials: Fire consumes 150 acres of land

Steve Garrison
The San Juan County Sheriff's Office dispatched a helicopter Sunday afternoon to track a brush fire that broke out in the Hogback area, which is seen in this photograph. Navajo police are investigating the cause of the fire.

FARMINGTON — Navajo police are investigating the cause of four brush fires that consumed approximately 150 acres of land Sunday on the Navajo Nation.

Navajo police Capt. Ivan Tsosie of the Shiprock Police District confirmed Monday his agency is conducting the investigation in cooperation with the Navajo Department of Criminal Investigations, but he did not provide further information on the investigation.

San Juan County Fire Department Deputy Chief Tom Fields said Monday he suspected the fires may be the result of arson, but his agency was not involved in the investigation.

The San Juan County Office of Emergency Management said in a press release Monday that Bureau of Indian Affairs Fire Management crews were first dispatched at 1 p.m. to a half-acre brush fire near mile marker 67 on U.S. Highway 491 in Sanostee Chapter.

Meanwhile, San Juan County volunteer fire fighters were sent to a 10-acre fire on Mesa Farm Road in Shiprock, according to the release.

Both those fires were contained by about 4 p.m., the release states.

A third brush fire was reported at 2:54 p.m. at mile marker 25 on U.S. Highway 64 in Shiprock. That fire burned across approximately 100 acres of land before it was contained Monday morning to an area near the San Juan River south of Shiprock, according to Office of Emergency Management spokeswoman Michele Truby-Tillen.

A fourth brush fire was reported at 3:20 p.m. near mile marker 10 on Navajo Route 36, according to the release. That fire burned 30 acres before it was contained, the release states.

San Juan County Fire Department Deputy Chief Tom Fields said Monday units from all 14 county fire districts responded to Sunday's fires. Firefighters from the Bureau of Land Management and Farmington Fire Department also assisted in containing fires, according  to Fields.

He said services were further strained by a fire reported at about noon Sunday at a garage on County Road 4599 in Blanco.

"That started it off and then, in the middle of that, we got the first call to Mesa Farm Road," he said.

He said Bloomfield Fire Department helped fight the Blanco structure fire.

Steve Garrison covers crime and courts for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4644.