With extremely dry conditions plaguing Valencia County and other parts of the state, local fire departments have been forced to ban open burning.
In early April, the Valencia County Fire Marshal’s office issued a “no burn” restriction on open burning in the county. Days later, it was announced that a state-wide “no burn” was put into effect, with which Belen, Bosque Farms and Los Lunas have complied.
Deputy Fire Marshal Charles Eaton said he has seen a dramatic drop in field fires since the ban has been in effect. Weeks and months before the county and state fire restrictions were set in place, hundreds of acres of county farm and bosque land lay victim to run-away flames.
“We’re still real tender,” Eaton said of the drought’s affect on fire dangers. “We’ve had some moisture in the past several weeks, but not nearly enough where we can lift the ban.”
Eaton said the county will need to have at least an inch of rain before the fire marshal’s office will consider lifting the “no burn” restriction. When the county’s restriction is eliminated, the deputy fire marshal said, residents should continue to communicate with his office as to “no burn” days.
Every fire department uses fire hydrants and some departments have overhead water tanks at their respective stations.
The water tanks used by fire departments in Los Chavez, Tome/Adelino, Peralta and Jarales obtain the water through wells managed by the state engineer’s office. The Meadow Lake fire department’s tank is hooked up through its own water supply.
Clara Garcia is the editor and publisher of the Valencia County News-Bulletin.
She is a native of the city of Belen, beginning her journalism career at the News-Bulletin in 1998 as the crime and courts reporter. During her time at the paper, Clara has won numerous awards for her writing, photography and typography and design both from the National Newspaper Association and the New Mexico Press Association.