Fire restrictions close areas in the Cibola National Forest

Created: 06/30/2014 5:52 PM
By: Stu Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4

Closed, read the signs at the roadblocks on the way up to the Sandia Crest.

As of Monday morning at 8 a.m. the U.S. Forest Service closed the Cibola National Forest Sandia and Mountainair Ranger Districts.

That means the forests of the Sandia and Manzano mountain ranges are off limits. Forest Rangers turned away traffic on the Crest Road.

“I was just out for a ride and I thought I’d go up to the Crest and check it out,” said motorcyclist Gary Birkman. “OK, I understand the fire danger. It’s dry.”

Gary got that right.

The forests on the mountain slopes are absolutely dehydrated and just waiting for a spark.

That’s why Bernalillo County has also closed off its Open Space areas in the Sandias.

“We haven’t had any significant moisture up here in the past several weeks,” said county fire marshal Chris Gober, holding a handful of dry pinon needles he pulled off a nearby tree. “You can look here and see how that just crumbles. That’s how dry it is. That stuff is ready to burn.”

Much of the forest is overgrown, with plenty of dead trees still standing that could turn into instant torches in a fire.

Many people living nearby are doing the best they can to thin trees and brush on their own property.

“We have cut down lots and lots of trees,” said Christine Smith, who lives in Cedar Crest. “It’s important to get the dead ones. We have lots of dead ones in our neighborhood and those of course would just go up in smoke.”

Right now the Sandia and Manzano closure in the Cibola National Forest are the only ones in effect.

The Santa Fe, Lincoln and Gila National Forests are open, with some fire restrictions. The Carson National Forest is wide open, with no fire restrictions.

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