Forest officials reevaluate fire restrictions ahead of Memorial Day Weekend

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Several rounds of precipitation moved through parts of northern New Mexico over the past week, causing forest officials to re-evaluate fire conditions.

The east side of the Santa Fe National Forest, which runs along the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, received enough precipitation to convince the forest service to hold off on stage 1 restrictions. For the west side, however, stage 1 fire restrictions are now in effect.

"So if people are going to go to Jemez Springs, Coyote or Cuba, they are under stage 1 fire restrictions, which means no campfires outside of developed campgrounds,” said Julie Anne Overton, public affairs officer for the Santa Fe National Forest.

Even though there are no restrictions on the east side of the forest, Overton is urging people to act responsibly.

"Usually when we see an abandoned campfire, it’s ashes that are still smoldering. This year we’ve actually come across literal blazing flaming fires that people just walk away from, which has astonished our veteran fire folks. They can’t believe what they are seeing,” she said.

The Carson National Forest was supposed to go under stage 1 restrictions Monday, but that changed due to the recent rain and snowfall in the area. However, this area is still in serious drought.

"Make sure your campfires are out. Like I said before, stir, check, stir, check again and make sure it’s completely out and also practice leave no trace principles. If you pack it in, please pack it out,” said Ivan Knudsen, public affairs officer for Carson National Forest.

A lot of visitors are expected for Memorial Day weekend, so here’s the message officials really want to get out there:

"We are pleading with people to please recreate responsibly,” Overton said.