LOS LUNAS — An arson suspect, identified as 23-yearold Johnathan Christopher Barnard, of Los Lunas, was arrested for setting a fire in the Bosque in Los Lunas Tuesday.
The fire began in the evening hours of Tuesday, June 22. No one was injured as a result of the fire.
During the investigation, Los Lunas police officers obtained a confession from Barnard, who openly admitted to starting the bosque fire, further adding he “wanted to see if they could put it out.”
Barnard was arrested on the scene and was booked into the Valencia County Detention Center on one felony count of arson.
According to Valencia County Fire Department officials, crews responded to a fire in the north east side of the bosque at about 8:15 p.m. The fire was actively spreading north, then due to erratic wind activity and cotton, spotted east along the levee ditch.
Several homes were threatened as the fire torched and continued to run north. A family was evacuated, and fire crews were focused on structure protection and were able to mitigate the initial threat allowing the family to quickly and safely return home.
As of early Tuesday morning, the fire was estimated at a little under seven acres. Fire lines were established and holding. The fire is 0 percent contained with the progression stopped
Crews remain on scene and continued to work through the day.
Valencia County Assistant Fire Chief Jaime Gonzales said it was a great feeling to have a suspect in custody so quickly.
Smoke from the fire was spotted by members of a county fire crew as they were crossing the bridge Tuesday evening, Gonzales said.
“The state fire marshal’s investigators are out here today, and are working diligently to see if this suspect has any connection to the woman arrested last week,” Gonzales said.
Samantha Leyerly, 33, of Valencia County, was arrested on Tuesday, June 15, and charged with one count of arson of more than $500 but less than $2,500 in damages.
Leyerly was released the next day and ordered to report to pre trial services. A preliminary exam hearing is scheduled for 1 p.m., Wednesday, July 14, via Google Meet, in front of Los Lunas Magistrate John W. Sanchez.
Editor’s note: The cutline on the main photo was updated to change the name of the fire.