Sandia Ranger District focuses on fire prevention

Created: 06/23/2014 6:37 PM
By: Joseph Lynch, KOB Eyewitness News 4

These hot and windy summer days really have the people who protect our forests on edge. In the Sandia Ranger District, boots are on the ground to protect against fire. The focus is on prevention, but if something goes wrong, they hope to keep a small fire from growing out of control.

The forest service has called for Stage Two fire restrictions. That means no open flames whatsoever. With the forests this dry, it just can’t be risked. But according to Chip Laugharn with the US Forest Service says- some still do.

"We've come across people in the process of lighting a barbeque you know- within two feet of one of our signs"

Forest rangers from as far as Illinois and California are patrolling remote locations in the Sandia and Monzano Mountains. They say they almost always find places where campfires have burned. So they put flagging up, in hopes that people won’t burn there. And they look for any hot spots that might have been left behind.

"Saturation patrol, trying to get out there and warn the folks and make sure that if anybody has left anything burning that we get right on it before the wind can take it into the brush.”

Boots on the ground and from a perch on a tower 8,000 feet high, they have a 360 degree view from up above the Sandia Ranger District. Keeping an eye on what people do. They can’t see and be everywhere. So Jennifer Martyniuk who is the assistant fire management officer at the Sandia Ranger District says they’re also counting on people enjoying the forest responsibly to report anyone violating the fire restrictions.  

"Our goal isn't to restrict recreation and not have people come out to the forest - but it's rather to just be careful at this time of year".

Our visiting forest service hotshot patrol teams come to New Mexico for a 14-day rotation. They’ll keep rotating in and out of here until the monsoon rains come.

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