Sandoval Signpost


An independent monthly newspaper serving the community since 1988
  Public Safety

Sandoval County Road Department employees Lawrence Tarraddei (left) and Lorenzo Gomez stand by their work after installing a burn-ban warning sign facing State Road 165 at Homestead Village Shopping Center in Placitas.
Photo credit: —Bill Diven

Rain fails to dampen burn ban

—Bill Diven

As welcome as recent rains have been, Sandoval County is keeping its ban on open burning in place for now. “We’re evaluating that every single day,” Fire Chief James Maxon told the Signpost. “Our biggest concern right now is that if we lift the ban, yes we’ve had rain, but the temperatures are going to shoot up, and it’s already so dry, and the drought is so bad, that it’s going to dry out again fairly quickly, and we’ll return to extreme fire right away.”

Late in July, Maxon said his department has set August 15 as a target date for lifting the ban. Beyond whatever rain falls, scientific measurements, including the moisture content of potential wildfire fuels, will be measured.

“However, we will reserve the right to extend the ban if conditions change before that date,” he said.

Most county residents have taken the fire danger to heart, Maxon continued. Firefighters responded to about twenty outdoor fires after the department stopped issuing permits for open fires in April but so far have not found it necessary to issue citations.

 “People have actually been very compliant, and when we actually have gone out to places, people are usually okay with warnings on the burnings,” the chief said.

County commissioners banned fireworks in the unincorporated areas of the county from early June into the week after July 4.

The ban on open burning also covers only the unincorporated parts of the county. It exempts petroleum-fueled cooking and heating devices, as long as there is a clear and defensible area around them with water or other fire protection nearby.

Complaints about illegal burning can be reported to the Sandoval County Fire Department at 891-7226 or 867-0245. The county also has installed warning signs about the ban at several prominent locations.

The high fire danger also closed much of the Cibola National Forest although by mid July the Sandia, and Mountainair ranger districts had reopened to public access with forest-wide restrictions lifted. By the end of the month, the reported fire danger ranged from low in the national grasslands of northeastern New Mexico to high in the Magdalena Ranger District.

Forest managers also announced the beginning of sales of personal-use firewood permits in the Mount Taylor Ranger District.

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