LAS VEGAS, N.M. (KRQE) – KRQE News 13 followed fire crews along New Mexico State Road 283 as they conducted burnouts. That’s a tactic meant to be a line of defense against encroaching flames and keep them from jumping the road. “We’re using fire to fight fire. And the reason is we’re trying to reduce the fuels so that fire doesn’t come at us. We’re doing it on our terms instead of the terms of the fire,” said Don Muise, Team Safety Manager, Southwest Incident Management Team.
Firefighters are burning all the brush and fuels in a controlled way before the fire can catch them. Muise says the more of a containment line they can burn there, the better chance of success they have to protect what’s beyond it. On the other side of New Mexico Highway 283, scooper planes drop water to moisten the area, another tool to prevent the fire from jumping the road.
Muise says they have a few miles of burning to get done along the line, crews have been working in the area day and night for the past three or four days. He says there are 1,200 people assigned to the fires. He says crews are working 16 shifts day after day to contain the fire.
Muise tells KRQE News 13 that with the past 24 of 30 days being red flag warning days, this has been one of the earliest, largest, and most complex fires he’s seen. Officials say this fire containment line is a combination dozer and hand line connecting from Luna Community College up to New Mexico State Road 283. They say this is their best line of defense for the city of Las Vegas.