New Fire Restrictions Announced
The Cibola National Forest, City of Albuquerque, Bernalillo County, and Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District are Upgrading to Stage II Fire Restrictions.
Fire Department and land management agencies in the greater Albuquerque area are increasing the fire danger rating level from Very High to Extreme because of ongoing drought conditions, greater fire potential, increasing temperatures, and greater public use.
As of 8 a.m. on June 22, 2012, these agencies have increased to Stage II Fire Restrictions within all Open Space Areas (to include the Rio Grande Bosque, Sandia Foot Hills, and West Mesa Grasslands) within the City of Albuquerque and Bernalillo County, along with Mountainair Ranger District and Sandia Ranger District.
These agencies used the following criteria when they changed the fire danger indices to extreme:
- When fires start easily from all causes and spread rapidly and quickly increase in intensity immediately after ignition
- When spot fires are a constant danger.
- When there are concerns that fires burning in light vegetation (fuels) could quickly develop high intensity characteristics – such as long-distance spotting and fire whirlwinds – when they burn in heavier fuels.
"The greatest natural disaster threat within the Albuquerque Metro Area is a wildland fire and additional fire restrictions further limits sources of ignition and increases public awareness of the current fire danger level.” Albuquerque Fire Chief James Breen said. “Once again we are asking our citizens to assist their firefighters in keep our community safe and protect our natural resources by being fire wise, using common sense, and avoiding the use of spark producing devices near open space and forested areas."
“Due to increasing fire danger, I believe these restrictions are necessary to prevent human-caused wildfires and to protect public health and safety,” said Nancy Rose, Forest Supervisor at the Cibola National Forest and Grasslands.
Stage II Restrictions
Stage II Restrictions intensifies the restrictions from Stage I by focusing on activities that, although normally managed under permit or contract, have a relatively high risk of causing a fire. Stage II Restrictions limit the activities of contractors, permitted and other wildlands users in Open Space Areas as well as the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District's Bosque area.
City of Albuquerque and Bernalillo County Stage II Fire Restrictions are in effect for all Open Space Areas to include the Rio Grande Bosque, Sandia Foothills, and West Mesa Grasslands and prohibit the following:
- Building, maintaining, attending or using a fire, open flame, campfire or stove fire
- Possessing, discharging or using any kind of fireworks or other pyrotechnic device
- Possessing or using a motor vehicle off any publicly designated roadways, except when parking in developed parking lots or at developed trailheads
- Operating a chainsaw or other equipment powered by an internal combustion engine
- Operating any piece of spark-emitting equipment
- Operating any internal or external combustion engine
- Welding, or operating an acetylene or other torch with an open flame
- Camping or overnight stay
Penalties & Enforcement in the City of Albuquerque
Any person found violating the fire restrictions ordinance shall be charged with a petty misdemeanor. Upon conviction, each violation shall be punishable by a fine up to five hundred dollars ($500) or imprisonment up to ninety (90) days, or both. The Fire Marshal's Office and the Albuquerque Police Department's Open Space Officers are responsible for enforcing the Albuquerque Fire Restriction Ordinance.
Stage II Restrictions in Sandia and Mountainaire National Forests
Sandia and Mountainair National Forests Stage II Fire Restrictions prohibit:
- Building, maintaining, attending or using a fire, campfire, charcoal, coal, or stove fire. Exception: The use of petroleum-fueled stoves, lanterns, or heating devices is allowed, provided such devices meet the fire underwriter’s specifications for safety.
- Smoking except within an enclosed vehicle or building.
- Using an explosive.
- Discharging a firearm, air rifle or gas gun.
- Operating a chainsaw or other equipment powered by an internal combustion engine between 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
- Operating or using any internal or external combustion engine without a spark arresting device that is properly installed, maintained and in effective working order. They must meet either USDA Forest Service or appropriate Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) recommended practice.
- Welding or operating acetylene or other torch with an open flame.
- Possessing or using a motor vehicle off National Forest System roads, except when parking in an area devoid of vegetation within 10 feet of the roadway; and except for overnight parking in Forest Service-developed campgrounds and trailheads.
Penalties & Enforcement
For the Cibola National Forest: Violations of these regulations are punishable as a Class B misdemeanor, by a fine of not more than $5,000 for an individual or $10,000 for an organization, or imprisonment for not more than six (6) months or both; 16 USC § 551, and 18 USC §§ 3559 and 3571.
The goal of these efforts is to protect our communities and our forests but we need help from both homeowners and visitors. Please:
- Be vigilant and use common sense when dealing with open flames of any sort;
- Be aware of RED FLAG warning days! Follow the Red Flag Protocols; and
- Know all restrictions in the areas you visit.
For additional information on restrictions and updates on fires, visit these sites:
- Cibola National Forest: http://www.fs.usda.gov/cibola
- City of Albuquerque: http://www.cabq.gov/fire
- New Mexico Fire Information: http://www.nmfireinfo.com
- InciWeb: http://www.inciweb.org
- Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District: http://www.mrgcd.com
- New Mexico State Forestry: http://www.emnrd.state.nm.us/FD