SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – As New Mexico struggles with severe drought conditions and high fire danger, forest officials are still finding abandoned campfires. The Santa Fe National Forest reports that on Mother’s Day weekend, fire prevention patrols on the Jemez Ranger District found 18 abandoned campfires while the Pecos/Las Vegas Ranger District found about 10 over the last 10 days.

Forest Service officials state that most of the abandoned campfires are found at dispersed campsites. Additionally, Jemez patrols reported several of the campfires they found still had flaming, burning logs that were not extinguished at all.

According to Forest Service officials, campfires are the leading human cause of wildfire and while officials say the majority of forest visitors camp responsibly, those that do not are putting the forest and surrounding communities in danger as abandoned campfires put natural resources, property, and human lives at risk.

As drier and hotter weather conditions are predicted, Northern New Mexico forests are discussing the implementation of fire restrictions ahead of Memorial Day weekend which is considered to be the start of the summer season. Those that do plan to gather around a campfire are urged to build them in an area away from vegetation.

Never abandon a campfire or leave it unattended and always make sure you have plenty of water and a shovel nearby. When leaving, properly extinguish the campfire by drowning and stirring until it’s the consistency of mud and is cold to the touch.