Increased holiday traffic raises fire danger, forest officials say
May 28, 2018 05:08 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – There's nothing like spending a warm afternoon under lush green canopies. Just ask the dozens of people who spent Memorial Day in the Sandia Mountains.
"We've got horseshoes, volleyball net set up, you know we got about 40 people to feed," said Tracy Crockett, a man spending the day the Doc Long Picnic Ground in the Cibola National Forest.
However, dry conditions around the state continue to ramp up risks of wildfires. Many mountainous districts are now in Stage 2 fire restrictions.
U.S. Forest Service officials said there's even more of a risk on holiday weekends when more people are out and about. With the influx of foot traffic, fire officials say there's more opportunity for a fire to spark.
"This is the driest I’ve ever seen it in 20 years," said James Hughes, a Forest Service volunteer. "People who live here probably know better than me but there used to be water running right back here behind us."
In many areas, there is no water. In fact, fire officials say the recent rain hasn't really made a dent in the drought.
"We came in blank kind of. But you know, everybody smokes cigarettes but no smoking cigarettes," said Freddy Lopez, a Sandia Mountain visitor.
A ribbon stretched across picnic grills means no cooking or campfires.
"It's something that we need around and we need to protect it, especially with all the fires that we have going on. So the fire restrictions, I understand why they have them," said Austin Keele, another area visitor.
Not everyone pays attention to the signs lining the road or stapled to bathroom walls. Hughes said on the weekends, he'll not only be answering questions, but he'll also be on the prowl for those not obeying those restrictions.
"Frankly, some of my heroes out here are the people that will read signs," Hughes said. "They're all excited, but if they’ll just read signs they'll learn things that are real useful, fire restrictions are premiere.”
Updated: May 28, 2018 05:08 PM
Created: May 28, 2018 04:36 PM
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