UP — This could have been a down, but when a Farmington resident tried to burn some weeds in front of his house this week and the fire raced back to the home scorching an exterior wall and the eaves, no one was injured. So we'll take this as a "teaching moment." New Mexico's windy and dry spring seasons are perfect for starting and fanning destructive wildfires. That applies to urban dwellers as well. In this week's fire, the man's wife and children were in the home, which also created the potential for loss of life. No one should take the deadly power of an uncontrolled fire lightly. As it happens, the city had declared a "no burn" day because of high wind forecasts. Farmington requires a permit to conduct a controlled burn, which starts with a free inspection. If that procedure had been followed, the inspector likely would have told the gentleman that the small trees and shrubberies close to the house were a fire hazard. That plant life allowed the fire to burn the side of the home. Firefighters responded promptly and extinguished the blaze. We hope this close call will inform others so they can avoid putting their property or their lives in danger.
DOWN — A young boy was seriously injured in a vehicle accident caused, according to police, by drug impairment. Seven-year-old Ethan Murray was among those injured on Sunday in a Kia Sol when it was hit from behind by a Ford F-250 allegedly driven by Farmington resident Mihdi Bathke. Police say Bathke told them he had taken four different prescription drugs three hours before the accident. Prescription drugs come with lengthy warnings about side effects and what kinds of activities to avoid. If these facts bear out, common sense, once again, was abandoned for instant gratification. It appears Bathke has other problems as he has racked up a total of seven felony and six misdemeanor charges since Feb. 27 that include battery, aggravated assault, child abuse and burglary. Something clearly has gone wrong in this man's life. But Ethan, whose injuries included multiple skull fractures and a broken jaw, is left to pay the price of an incredibly poor decision. Others were injured in the wreck as well, including the boy's parents and his sister. As a result, Bathke faces a DUI charge, two felony counts of causing great bodily injury by motor vehicle and a misdemeanor charge of negligent use of a deadly weapon. We hope Bathke finds a way to unravel the problems plaguing his life, but it shouldn't take a tragedy such as this to open a person's eyes to the potentially lethal stupidity of driving under the influence. In a fair world, Ethan wouldn't have to bear the scars of another's irresponsibility.
UP — We support a Youth Conservation Corps program that is paying high school students to work full time on improvements at the Aztec Ruins National Monument. The students are members of Aztec High School's Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps. We see numerous ups in this relationship. The cadets learn good work habits. And the park benefits from improvements that include fencing, wall restoration, painting, shade structure construction, planting of native vegetation, and clearing out invasive plant species. That's good for the monument, which supports the tourist trade and the associated economic development for Aztec and the region.