Buildup, neglect preceded fire

By Dave Gragg

Tucumcari city crews worked Friday to spread around the still-smoldering remains of a Tuesday night brush pile north of town.
The massive pile of branches had been gathering for years, waiting for city workers to chip them into mulch, but it had not been getting done on a regular basis, said City Manager Richard Primrose.
The city does not own a wood chipper, so workers used a tire shredder which could not handle large branches, he said.
Primrose said he had talked with Clovis officials about borrowing its chipper, which would have been able to take care of the pile in a day or two.
But those plans never materialized and are now unnecessary.
Firefighters responded to Tuesday night’s fire around 9:30 p.m. near the city’s waste water treatment plant.
They would not have been able to put the fire out completely, so concentrated on keeping the fire from spreading, said Assistant Fire Chief Larry Rigdon.
Fire crews began pumping water on the blaze itself around 10:30 p.m., then began packing up around midnight, he said.
They had knocked the fire down enough they knew it wasn’t going to spread, Rigdon said, but they left someone there through the night to watch the still-burning pile to make sure.
There were no indications of what started the fire, Rigdon said.
Police Chief Dennis Townsend said while he believed the fire had been intentionally set, his department was not investigating.
Any evidence would have been destroyed by the fire, the water used to put out and contain the fire and the firetrucks themselves, Townsend said.