Wildfires

Fire officials warn of surprising ways people can start fires without knowing

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) - When most people think wildfires, they think of lightning strikes, campfires and cigarettes as the usual culprits, but there are others that may surprise some people.

This year, crews are preparing for a long fire season.

"This time of year, these types of conditions, that five acre fire can become a big fire," Todd Haines said. 

Haines is the Bernalillo District Forester with New Mexico State Forestry. He said they prepare all year for fire season. He took KRQE News 13 crews down to the Bosque near Alameda, where last year, a fire prompted officials to shut down the major river crossing during rush hour.

"State forestry and our other partners came out and thinned the four corners of this bridge to make sure if a fire does occur, maybe it will stay at a level that we can take care of it and won't have to shut down traffic, especially during rush hour," Haines said.

When it comes to how these fires start, Haines stressed lightning strikes and unattended campfires are only the beginning of the problem.

"Fires can start with any type of carelessness, so we're trying to make people aware and not to be surprised if and when it does occur," he said. 

So lately, Fire Commanders like Tanya Lattin with the Corrales Fire Department are highlighting what they call "careless causes."

"The ones people don't necessarily expect," Haines said

According to the One Less Spark campaign, things that can spark a fire include:

  • Hanging chains on a vehicle
  • Low tire pressure
  • Old brakes  
  • Vehicles parked to close to high vegetation
  • Rocks in dry grass or weeds
  • Chainsaws
  • Welding/Grinding

"We've had several fires from people outside welding and they weren't in a clear enough area and their welding sparked the cotton," Lattin said. "We always suggest wetting down the area first. It's like if you were going to do a controlled burn, think smart."

Haines said dragging chains is always near the top of the list.

"One of the previous years we've had 13 fires start from one person dragging a chain down the highway," he said.

According to Lattin, because Corrales has so many houses along the Bosque, they've been making home visits this year just to help educate people. 

"...Because we do them all the time and a lot the times it's completely safe but other times when it's really dry and we've got cotton blowing or cotton gathering around you, it's not safe," she said.     
 


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