Albuquerque Fire Rescue launched its open space patrols this holiday weekend. With the high risk for fire, their goal is to respond before anything gets out of hand.
With 29,000 acres of open space to cover in the city of Albuquerque, Albuquerque Fire Rescue’s Open Space Patrol didn’t waste any time surveying the bosque Monday. They flagged trees, came up with escape routes, and tested out new equipment. The idea is to already have crews on the ground to catch fires in their early stages. “Versus them getting up to the canopies of the trees and becoming catastrophic in nature much like 2004,” says AFR Lt. Brian Fox.
Fire officials say because of all the moisture the area saw before fire season, the grass is a lot taller and denser, increasing the risk for fire. “Now those fine fuels that catch fire easily, and they spread fire quickly, so now that’s a concern that we have which normally we don’t have,” Lt. Fox says.
That’s not the only problem the intense monsoon season caused. Officials say they also have to examine all 50 access points across the bosque. “Some of them in the past have been compromised because of the higher levels in the river, so we want to make sure we can still get our apparatus out here,” Lt. Fox says.
For now, there is only one truck patrolling the thousands of acres in the bosque, West Mesa and the foothills. With so much land to cover, they’re hoping the public will help keep an eye out. “We don’t want to close the bosque. We ask the recreators who are our enjoying the land to please do their part if they see something, we ask them to say something,” Fox says.
AFR will add a second truck to the Open Space Patrol at the end of next month just before fireworks go on sale.
A reminder, open flames or smoking isn’t allowed in open space.