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Officials say destructive New Mexico fire was caused by hot auto parts

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • A massive wildfire in New Mexico was started by heated auto parts from a vehicle
  • The state's fire agency said the blaze was mostly contained Wednesday
  • The Quail Ridge fire consumed 1,776 acres of land southwest of Albuquerque
  • CNN affiliate: Two horses were killed and more than a dozen house pets are missing

(CNN) -- A wildfire in New Mexico that consumed hundreds of acres southwest of the capital was started by pieces of a hot catalytic converter from a vehicle, according to the state's forestry division.

Fire crews brought the blaze, which was called the Quail Ridge fire, under control Wednesday, and some personnel were sent home in the evening, the agency said. The number of firefighters at Quail Ridge has dropped from 120 on Tuesday to 50 on Wednesday.

"Fire activity today was minimal, which allowed crews to continue mopping up," the agency said an statement. "The debris pile with tires that was still burning last night was extinguished. There was no fire activity on the perimeter of the burn."

While investigators acknowledged that the destructive conflagration was caused by heated car parts from a vehicle, there was no comment on whether the fire was set intentionally.

Gov. Susana Martinez toured the burn area Wednesday. She met with incident command staff and with residents who lost their homes.

The blaze consumed nearly 1,800 acres of land southwest of Albuquerque, near Silver City, and destroyed a total of sixty structures.

Two horses were killed and more than a dozen dogs and cats remain unaccounted for, according to CNN affiliate KRQE.

No evacuations were conducted Wednesday, but the forestry agency says around 200 structures will remain at risk until the fire is completely contained.