BYLINE: Lee Ross Mountain View Telegraph
With fires popping up due to the state’s dry conditions, it really should come as no surprise that municipalities are starting to clamp down on fires and fireworks.
Due to extreme fire danger, Bernalillo, Santa Fe and Torrance counties have adopted bans on the sale or use of fireworks in their unincorporated areas, and most of the cities and towns have followed suit. The government agencies are also banning campfires and limiting smoking, as are federal and state agencies around New Mexico are banning campfires and limiting smoking.
Both the Mountainair and Sandia ranger districts are in Stage 1 fire restrictions, but both will enter Stage 2 restrictions on Friday. That means the forest areas will impose more severe bans on smoking, fires, parking on vegetated areas or operating vehicles off-road, welding or using a chain saw, and the use of firearms.
Bob Heiar, a recreation staff officer for the Sandia Ranger District, noted that the district and the city of Albuquerque will try and make things simple, with one set of rules to follow, and impose restrictions at the same time.
Just like the restrictions in the forest, Albuquerque will prohibit fires and other ignition sources in city of Albuquerque open spaces, many of which are in the East Mountains.
There will be a very limited exception to the fireworks bans throughout the East Mountains and Estancia Valley, however.
On Independence Day, the city of Moriarty will allow the use of fireworks only in City Park. Moriarty is also allowing fireworks stores to sell fireworks.
The city did something similar last year, allowing people to come out and fire rockets in the park on the Fourth of July. According to Moriarty Fire Chief Steve Spann, the event went quite well, with the exception of an few heated arguments between attendees and a few people outside of the designated area who were shooting off fireworks.
“(There were) people we had to speak to, but nothing major,” he said.
In addition, law enforcement is cracking down to ensure compliance with the ban on fireworks and open fires, according to Lt. John McCauley of the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department. He said when his deputies catch people violating the bans, they will be handing out citations without exception.
“Fire watch is on everyone’s mind, or should be,” he said. “We are enforcing those (bans) without any latitude … We’re not giving people slack.”
Copyright 2012 Albuquerque Journal