PIE TOWN (KRQE) - Not many people knew about an empty field used as a lightning conductor for art exhibits until a Larry Barker investigation.
It's partially funded by tax-payer money, but it's off-limits to the public. Access is by reservation only, limited to 1,100 visitors a year and costing as much as $250 a person.
The lightning field is just north of Pie Town in Southwest New Mexico.
It's and art exhibit of 400 stainless steel poles, evenly spaced a mile wide. During monsoon season, lightning targets the area and lights up the sky.
People from all over the world pay to get a glimpse. But one man from Portland, Oregon wants to get in for free.
An online user by the name of Chris Radcliffe was asking for advice on sneaking into the lightning field, without getting caught. He wants to hike in, watch the lightning spectacular, and leave.
But sheriff's deputies say that it is a death-trap.
"People have tried to sneak in there. It's not a good idea, especially if there's a storm brewing," said Catron County Sheriff's Deputy Jimmy Jaramillo.
Jaramillo says he may avoids the lightning bolts, but there's more danger ahead. Big game animals and freezing conditions, all on 5,400 acres of rugged terrain. The property is not accessible by car and out of of cell phone range.
"We could get to you in time. We could not. There have been people found a year later in canyons and stuff where they're off hiking. They end up not finding their way back to their vehicle and they die," said Jaramillo.
And that's similar to the response that Albuquerque residents gave Radcliffe on the web.
Jaramillo says the Sheriff's department's resources are limited and search and rescue efforts can take a long time.
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