To say that this year’s fire season is starting off with a bang is obviously a gross understatement. It’s only March, and already fire crews are working overtime to put out controlled burns that somehow get out of control.
Start your fire in the early morning. Never mind that you called Valencia Fire Dispatch and they told you it was a declared no-burn day or that you started your fire at 8 a.m. and the burn hours on burn days are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Your fire is blazing merrily away and the wind jumps from dead calm to 20 mph. Now your fire is out of control and eating up your neighbor’s field. Go figure!
Your problems have just started. The Valencia County Fire Marshal can, and probably will, cite you for starting the fire, and you are liable in civil court for damages to your neighbor’s property. Not to mention that several tired and angry volunteer firefighters whose job it is to extinguish your fire would like to find your head on a platter because you are the fourth person today that’s had them called out for what can only be called a mess-up on your part.
Come on, folks. Give us a break. You’ve read this paper’s previous editions. One headline said it in no uncertain terms: “FIRE ALERT.”
Two prevalent facts come to light: This wind that’s blowing is further drying out an already extremely dry terrain. And our area is drier now than the Los Alamos area was two years ago. This should be enough to curtail any and all burning voluntarily. I sincerely hope that those of you who read this will take it to heart and hold off on your burning.
The sad thing about it is that there may not be an opportune time to burn this year. The forecast drought is definitely upon us. Believe me, lack of water, high winds and flames spell disaster. And only by cooperating with your local fire entities can we avert the one thing that firefighters fear most: a conflagration. (For those that don’t know what a conflagration is — Los Alamos two years ago!)
(Editor’s note: Skip Mills is the assistant chief of the Belen Fire Department.)