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  Public Safety


—Photo courtesy of New Mexico State Forestry Division

Learn about wildfire and how to make your property safer

—Jon Couch

In 2011, the Las Conchas fire in the Jemez Mountains scorched 46,000 acres the first day. An equivalent fire in the Sandias would burn an area bounded by Highway 165 in Placitas to I-40 near Tijeras and from Sandia Crest to the village of Cedar Crest.

Placitas residents are invited to learn more about the potential dangers of wildfire to the area and what can be done to reduce its impact. Come to Las Placitas Presbyterian Church in the Village on March 16. Look for the Placitas Volunteer Fire Brigade two-thousand-gallon water tender and other equipment parked out front. Imagine you need their help. Can the equipment get to your house, is there enough turnaround space? Members of the Fire Brigade will be available to answer questions.

Inside the church, the U.S. Forest Service will use a vivid three-dimensional computer simulation at 9:00 a.m. to show how quickly fire could spread to Placitas given different starting points and wind variables.

At 10:00 a.m., retired forester George Duda’s will give an informative and entertaining presentation on the hazards of wildfire and what homeowners can do—like thinning, pruning, removing brush, and cutting grass—to reduce dangerous conditions on their property.

Mr. Duda worked for the U.S. Forest Service and N.M. State Forestry Division, is a member of many professional societies, and currently acts as the Forest Health Program Assessor for the Ciudad Soil and Water Conservation District. Please join him from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. for a visit to a property in the Village of Placitas to show what can be done to reduce wildfire risk around a home.

Several local groups are working together to administer a $5,000 grant for a Firewise pilot project in Placitas. The project will provide fifty percent of the cost for professional fuels reduction for a few homeowners on up to an acre around selected homes. Placitas homeowners can apply for funding during the month of March. Contact Vicki Gottlieb at 404-8022 or, or pick up an application form at the event on March 16. The Coronado Soil and Water Conservation District is seeking additional grant funds to expand the work to lessen wildfire potential in Placitas.

Firewise scheduleEveryone in Placitas is encouraged to attend the March 16 event and become familiar with potential wildfire threats, simple things to do to make homes and property less vulnerable to wildfire, and learn more about the process of applying for money to help reduce the fuels around home sites.

Firewise Placitas is committed to positive action and community participation. Regular meetings, before and after the March 16 event, are on March 7 and 21 at 10:00 a.m. at the Placitas Community Library.

PNM warns about scam

—Britny Fudge

PNM is warning customers about a phone scam where a caller asks customers to purchase a PayPal money card or a prepaid gift card from a retailer and provide the card number over the phone to avoid a service disconnection.

Several PNM customers recognized the scam and reported the incidents to PNM and authorities. While PNM does make outgoing calls to notify customers of pending disconnects, most calls are recorded messages and offer customers the option to make a payment or request a payment extension through the automated system. On occasion, PNM makes live outgoing calls to customers to collect a past due payment. In those cases, customers will be asked for a payment, but never advised to purchase prepaid gift cards, or PayPal money cards. They will be instructed to pay an authorized PNM payment station, via PNM’s automated system or online at What you can do to protect yourself:

1) A call from PNM typically is displayed on the customer’s caller ID.

2) Check your bill. The amount the caller is asking for should match your bill.

3) If you are not sure if the call is coming from PNM, hang up the phone and call PNM at 888-DIAL-PNM (888-687-7854).

PNM advises customers to pay bills using their normal methods (such as on or through their bank) and to take precautions to verify that the caller is really from PNM before giving out financial information.
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