Firefighters prep for fire season, say you should too | KOB 4

Firefighters prep for fire season, say you should too

Morgan Aguilar
February 14, 2018 07:57 AM

BERNALILLO COUNTY, N.M. - Living in many of New Mexico’s most beautiful areas comes with a high risk. Firefighters are already preparing for a rough fire season, and say homeowners should be too.


“The potential for a very severe fire season is definitely here,” said Lieutenant Susan Powers, Wildland Fire Coordinator for the Bernalillo County Fire Department.

In June of 2016, the Dog Head Fire scorched nearly 18,000 acres in the Manzano Mountains. About a dozen homes were destroyed.

Susan Smith says flames came within about three miles of her property.

“As far up as you could see, sky high, clouds were red and boiling and it was scary," said Smith.

Even before the Dog Head, Smith had put a lot of time, money and effort into protecting her home. She had installed a metal roof, thinned the forest on her two-acres, put in a three-foot-wide gravel barrier along the edge of her home, and installed a 4,500 gallon water tank should firefighters ever need to pump water right from her front yard.

After the fire, she did even more work.

“I took out some big trees around the house, even some shade trees,” said Smith. "I stucco’d all the buildings. They'd been wood siding. This gives about an hour to catch fire with fire up against it."

Lieutenant Powers says Smith’s property is an excellent example of what she’d like to see everyone living the mountains do.

“The grasses are mowed down less than four-inches and you've treated all of the outbuildings as well, not just the primary residence so that's amazing,” said Lt. Powers while assessing Smith’s property.

Powers is so concerned about the upcoming fire season, she’s willing to go to anyone’s home for a free evaluation. She will let you know what you’re doing right, and what you could improve, and most of her tips can be accomplished without spending thousands of dollars.

“Tarps are great because embers get into all of these little nooks and crannies,” explained Lt. Powers while assessing Smith’s wood pile. “Keeping the gutters cleared out is very important.”

Lt. Powers encourages everyone to attend the upcoming Community Wildfire Preparedness Meeting at the Los Vecinos Community Center on February 28th at 6 p.m.

To schedule an assessment, Lt. Powers can be contacted at (505) 468-1338 or by email at

Even Smith, who has already prepared her property well, was able to learn a few things that just might come in handy this summer.

“In 22 years, I've only seen one other winter this dry,” said Smith.


Morgan Aguilar

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