Planning to shoot off fireworks for the Fourth of July? Here's what you should know
AZTEC — With dry vegetation, hot weather and sometimes windy conditions, fires can start and spread quickly.
That danger of brush fires increases as people light off fireworks.
In May, the state forester issued an order establishing fire restrictions — including fireworks — on non-municipal, tribal or federal lands in the state.
San Juan County Fire Department Deputy Chief Chris Cardin said the county fire department will be enforcing that order — and that effort includes issuing citations. Cardin said people shooting off fireworks on land partially or wholly covered in grass, tumbleweeds, timber or other vegetation could face citations.
He said the county fire department will also be making sure people using fireworks are doing so safely. Cardin encouraged people to have a fun Fourth of July, but also to take precautions to prevent fires.
Cardin said people should have access to an adequate water supply to extinguish fires if they choose to light off fireworks. Intoxicated people should not shoot off fireworks, he said.
This time of year tends to be a busy time for firefighters, not just because of fireworks. Cardin said thunderstorms and anything that creates a spark can lead to fires. He said earlier this year a person who was welding in the Bloomfield area sparked a large fire.
"The weeds are high, they're extremely dry...the area's prime for burning and anything that can create that spark or that initial flame has the potential of starting a fire," Cardin said.
While all fireworks that are legal in New Mexico can be set off in safe environments in San Juan County, the municipalities — Bloomfield, Aztec, Kirtland and Farmington — have enacted stricter restrictions.
Cardin said that means firework stands in the county will sell fireworks that are not permitted in the municipalities. He recommended looking at the labels on the fireworks when purchasing them. If a firework's label says "caution" it can be used in cities and the Town of Kirtland. If it says "warning," it cannot be used within municipal boundaries.
Farmington and Aztec also list guidelines on their websites for people wondering what types of fireworks are allowed.
Fireworks are already sparking fires in the county. On June 28, firefighters in the Cedar Hill area responded to a fire on County Road 2300 that was started by fireworks, according to a post on the fire department’s Facebook page.
The crews gained control of the wildfire and extinguished the blaze after it had charred a couple of acres near the state line.
San Juan County encourages residents to light fireworks off at a parking lot at McGee Park. The parking lot is available from dark to 10 p.m. daily through July 11.
The county offers a parking lot at McGee Park as a safe place to shoot off fireworks for several years. Cardin said this has reduced the number of fires caused by fireworks and it has grown in popularity.
Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at email@example.com.
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