SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – Officials with the New Mexico Forestry Division say due to the extreme drought in northern New Mexico, the 2021 wildfire season could begin as early as late March or early April. The Energy, Minerals, and Natural Resources Department’s Forestry Division announced Thursday it was working with local, state, federal, and tribal partners and non-governmental organizations to encourage New Mexicans to be vigilant year-round to be prepared for wildfires.
The organization announced its message for February is: show your home some love. Officials with the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) say 58,250 wildfires burned 10.3 million acres across the United States in 2020, which is the largest number of acres burned in one year.
The Forestry Division offered up these tips to identify vulnerable areas in the home:
- Check your roof. Houses with wood shake or shingle roofs are more likely to be destroyed during a wildfire. Consider installing fire-resistant roofing material, such as asphalt composition shingles, metal, concrete, or clay tile.
- Clean your rain gutters, flat roofs, and valleys in pitched roofs. Remove pine needles, leaves, or other materials that may have accumulated over the winter. Embers can easily ignite dried out debris.
- Check your vents. Consider changing out standard quarter-inch mesh with one-eighth-inch metal wire mesh (if building codes and required air flow allow) to prevent wildfire embers form penetrating attics, eaves, and crawl spaces. Keep vents clear from debris and do not plant shrubs underneath or in front of vents.
- Replace exterior wall coverings that are combustible, susceptible to melting, or can readily transmit heat with noncombustible or fire-resistant materials.
- Replace windows with dual-paned, tempered glass windows.
- Clean your deck. Remove debris from under your deck and from the gaps between deck boards. REplace wooden lattice with properly-vented solid skirting or with one-eighth-inch wire mesh to keep embers out.
- Don’t sore firewood, gas cans, lawn mowers, cardboard, or other combustible materials next to your home. Move these at least five-feet away from the outside walls of the house.
- Landscaping can also light up your home. Replacing flammable plants with fire-resistant species and replacing wood chips with decorative rock for ground cover can help against wildfire spread.