Four government entities in Valencia County have approved either proclamations or resolutions banning the sale and use of certain fireworks due to drought conditions.

The Peralta Town Council voted not to restrict fireworks at it’s meeting last month, and the Bosque Farms Village Council has not considered restrictions.

 

Belen

The Belen City Council unanimously approved a resolution on Monday, June 6, to reinforce its fireworks ordinance on what can be sold and used within the city limits.

“This is a resolution, just to reinforce the ordinance that we already have,” said Belen Deputy Fire Chief Charles Cox.

The approved resolution reflects similar language that is in the city’s fireworks ordinance, adding, “… the City of Belen, Valencia County has experienced a large catastrophic Bosque Fire (sic) this year and ongoing extreme drought without improvements in conditions …”

Cox said the ordinance bans the sale and use of aerial devices, stick/missle-type rockets, ground audible devices, or any fireworks or devices with a “warning” label.

Cox also reminded the council and the public that fireworks that go higher than 10 feet in the air are not permitted.

Permissible fireworks include ground and hand-held sparkling and smoke devices, cone fountains, crackling devices, cylindrical fountains, illuminating torches, toy smoke devices, flitter sparklers, wheels or any fireworks with a “caution” label.

“This came up because of a recent proclamation … (by another local municipality),” said Mayor Robert Noblin. “This year, we are in a drought and there have been a lot of fires. Because of these conditions, we need to be very mindful this year.

“…These things are in our ordinance, but it’s a special reminder to be extra cautious.”

The city of Belen will host its annual All-American Celebration on Saturday, July 2, at Eagle Park. The festivities, to include live music beginning at 4 p.m., will culminate in fireworks at dusk.

 

Los Lunas

After a long-awaited rainfall Thursday, June 9, Los Lunas Fire Chief John Gabaldon stood before the village council and asked it to approve a proclamation reinforcing a village ordinance restricting the sale and use of certain fireworks within the village.

“As you know, it’s been very dry. I’m coming here talking about drought as if we didn’t get a little bit of rain a second ago, right, but it’s already gone,” Gabaldon said. “It’s drying out right now as we speak.”

The proclamation only allows for the sale and use of “safe and sane” fireworks within village limits, prohibiting any fireworks that exceed a 10 foot-perimiter or shoot higher than 10-feet in the air. This includes aerial spinners, helicopters, mines, missile-type rockets, roman candles, shells, stick-type rockets, ground-audible chasers and firecrackers.

The ban of use and sales is active for 30 days, until Sunday, July 10.

Los Lunas Mayor Charles Griego and other councilors echoed Gabaldon’s sentiment, encouraging residents to enjoy the village’s annual Fourth of July celebration. He added they village does not want to cite people using prohibited fireworks, but the village will both cite and confiscate fireworks from those who do.

“I love the attitude and the independence of America, but there is no way, with as dry as we have been, that this could be a good, reasonable decision to say we should let it happen,” said Councilor James Runyon. “I love fireworks, but there are too many possibilities and we’ve lost too many acres here in this great state. Get them to go to the park.”

The proclamation was approved unanimously by the council on a 3-0 vote. Los Lunas Councilor Gino Romeo was absent from Thursday’s meeting.

The Fourth of July celebration will be held at the Los Lunas Sports Complex at Morris and N.M. 314. Gates open at 4 p.m., with fireworks beginning at dusk.

 

Rio Communities

Joshua Ramsell, the mayor of Rio Communities, issued a proclamation on Monday, June 13, stating certain fireworks are banned and others have restricted use for the next 30 days due to the severe drought.

As per the proclamation, the city is banning the sale and use of missile-type rockets, helicopters, mines, aerial spinners, stick-type rockets, roman candles and ground audible chasers such as firecrackers. The ban expires on Wednesday, July 13.

Types of fireworks allowed in Rio Communities are limited to cone fountains, crackling devices, cylindrical fountains, flitter sparklers, ground spinners, illuminating torches, toy smoke devices, and wheels.

These fireworks can only be used in areas that are paved, barren or have an accessible source of water by the homeowner or general public.

Any city-approved display of fireworks requires a written permit from the city.

 

Valencia County

The Valencia County commission approved a 30-day emergency ordinance and proclamation banning the sale and use of certain types of fireworks in the unincorporated county on Monday, June 13.

Valencia County Fire Chief Matt Propp said drought conditions in Valencia County have gone beyond severe and are now considered “exceptional.”

“Everything in the county is primed for a catastrophic fire,” Propp said.

Valencia County attorney Adren Nance said the proclamation aligned with state law, which allows municipalities and counties to ban the sale and use of certain types of fireworks, but not all of them.

“It’s only the big ones, the fun ones. But the ones that actually cause fires — spinners and cones — we’re not allowed to ban,” Nance said.

Fireworks that are banned for sale and use in the unincorporated areas of the county are stick-type rockets, helicopters and aerial spinners, missile-type rockets, ground audible devices, firecrackers and display fireworks.

State statute requires local agencies enact the bans at least 20 days before a holiday where fireworks are sold and only for 30 days.

Nance said after the 30 days, the commission could reissue the proclamation. The proclamation passed by the commission is in effect until Wednesday, July 13.

Propp said the fire department is asking residents who see fireworks that might be violating the ban to call the Valencia Regional Emergency Communication Center’s non-emergency number — 505-865-9130 — rather than overwhelming 911.

“Unless it’s something emergent, please call the non-emergency line,” he said.

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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.

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.