Fire departments across Valencia County have agreed to issue an open burn ban for the next 30 days.
In a recent press release, Valencia County Fire Chief Matt Propp says due to ongoing drought, severe fire danger and serious lack of resources throughout New Mexico, Valencia County, the village of Los Lunas, city of Belen, town of Peralta, the village of Bosque Farms and city of Rio Communities are implementing an open burn ban effective today, Monday April 18.
The ban will remain in effect for 30 days or until conditions change to reduce the fire danger, at which time the need for the open burn restrictions will be reevaluated and updated as appropriate.
The fire departments use several criteria to determine when to implement restrictions, including current and predicted weather, fuel moisture, fire activity levels and available fire fighting resources, the release reads.
“The restriction of open burning is a proactive way to reduce the very real risk of fire,” Propp said in the same release. “We must do what we can to protect our bosque from wildfire, protect our natural resources, and we must protect the safety of our communities’ lives and property while enhancing firefighter safety.”
The open burn ban restricts any and all outdoor fires, such as weed burning, cooking fires and bonfires. Charcoal grills are allowed under the ban as long as they have a cover, and propane grills are allowed as well.
Additionally, the departments urge residents to use extreme caution when using any open flame such as welding or grinding, and have at least a 4-foot diameter area cleared of all flammable material with a water source or extinguisher available.
If smoking outdoors, do not drop or toss a lit cigarette on the ground. Ensure it is fully extinguished before disposal.
Avoid parking or leaving a running vehicle in dry brush or cotton, as this can create a fire that will spread.
“With the Fourth of July coming up, we also encourage all residents to use only ‘safe and sane’ fireworks,” the chief requested in the release. “Stick-type rockets, helicopters and aerial spinners; missile-type rockets, ground audible devices, firecrackers and display fireworks are prohibited.”
Call Valencia County Fire Administration Office at 505-866-2040 with any questions about the open burn ban.
Julia M. Dendinger began working at the VCNB in 2006. She covers Valencia County government, Belen Consolidated Schools and the village of Bosque Farms. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists Rio Grande chapter’s board of directors.