FARMINGTON — Spring preparations took a turn for two San Juan County residents Saturday afternoon when wind prompted a controlled burn on their property to grow and scorch 2 acres.
Bob and Paula Alley were burning weeds in a ditch on their property at 720 Road 3000 when winds kicked up and spread the blaze, catching their tractor on fire at around 12:20 p.m.
The fire burned about 2 acres of land, mostly on the Alley's neighbor's property, before San Juan County Fire Department crews extinguished the blaze. The fire, which burned between Farmington and Flora Vista, was contained shortly after 1 p.m.
Plumes of smoke were visible from N.M. Highway 516 in the early afternoon.
No one was injured in the fire. No homes were evacuated.
Kevin Jones, the district chief of the San Juan County Fire Department, said people should secure a burn permit before conducting a controlled burn. During business hours on Monday through Friday, residents can call 505-334-1180 for a burn permit. At other times, he recommends calling Farmington police dispatch at 505-334-6622.
"Every day, we look at the weather patterns and the conditions that exist and determine whether to issue permits," Jones said.
He said no burn permits were issued Friday because of dry conditions and wind.
Paula Alley said when the couple started burning weeds Friday morning, there was no wind. She said they did not have a burn permit.
The couple used a tractor to push weeds into the blaze on Saturday. When the wind picked up, the tractor caught fire. Paula Alley recalled seeing her husband trying to back the tractor out of the fire, but the flames "kept on following him."
She said she is just grateful he didn't get hurt.
"When that happened, there was nothing we could really do," Bob Alley said.
He said they called 911 to report the fire.
"If the tractor hadn't caught on fire, I think we would have been fine," Bob Alley said.