Las Vegas asks for $10M for new regional fire training center

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The City of Las Vegas is asking for $10 million from the New Mexico Legislature to fund a regional fire training center to respond to destructive wildfires more quickly.

This comes close to one year since the devastating Hermits Peak/Calf Canyon Fire that tore through northern New Mexico.

In the wake of this, Las Vegas City Councilor David Romero said it is “a need and not a want anymore” to provide more resources in the area to stop the next wildfire from spreading out of control.

“We feel that, in rural New Mexico, we don’t have the resources that Central New Mexico might have, or the southern part has, especially due to the nature that we have a lot of forestry area in this area,” Councilor Romero said.

The idea is to have a training facility near the Las Vegas airport to serve as a regional hub for fire crews. It would be accessible for local crews and when resources are requested from out of state.

Las Vegas Fire Chief Steven Spann says this would save money and time.

“It’s three hours one way for our guys to get down there. That also takes away from the staff on duty and coverage for the department,” Chief Spann said.

The chief says this region is prone to experiencing more wildfires for the next several years. Councilor Romero says it’s concerning, as the last fire destroyed the area’s watershed.

“This year, specifically, we made a harder push just because of everything that we experienced last year in the Hermits Peak/Calf Canyon Fire,” Councilor Romero said.

That funding would either come through as part of the infrastructure bill brought forward by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham or as part of a capital outlay project.