Hot, dry weather sparks concerns about fireworks
FARMINGTON — With the Fourth of July just around the corner, firefighters are preparing for the fireworks-related incidents that invariably go hand-in-hand with the holiday.
Farmington Fire Department Chief Terry Page said crews have already responded to several fires that may have been caused by fireworks. And in light of the hot weather and dry conditions throughout the state, Gov. Susana Martinez has urged municipalities to consider banning fireworks, according to reports from The Associated Press.
Farmington bans all aerial fireworks and firecrackers. But Page said the city cannot ban fireworks altogether because a state statute permits a fireworks ban only if an area meets certain drought conditions. While San Juan County is currently not in a drought, the fire danger is still very high, according to the fire chief.
"The fire danger rating is something that can change daily and even hourly," Page said.
Recent hot weather has also dried up many plants, creating natural kindling for fires and leading to potentially dangerous situations, Page said.
The operators of local fireworks stands are very familiar with the city's ban on certain fireworks.
Xavier Gingras started working for his uncle at Burnham Industries' fireworks stand near Flora Vista this summer. He said he informs Farmington residents about those restrictions when they purchase fireworks.
Gingras said customers actually tend to prefer aerial fireworks and firecrackers. His favorite firework that Burnham Industries sells is known as the Excalibur.
"It's big, and it packs a lot of punch," he said.
At the checkout stand, Burnham Industries lists safety precautions it urges customers to follow. They include common-sense items such as not re-lighting "dud" fireworks, setting off fireworks away from buildings and keeping water nearby in case of a fire.
"Just be smart about where you set them off and how you set them off," Gingras said. "They're fun, but they can be dangerous."
Last week, the San Juan County Office of Emergency Management posted on Facebook that residents can set off fireworks from July 1-4 at McGee Park, which is a "fire safe" area.
Meanwhile, Page said the Farmington Police Department and Farmington Fire Department will patrol the city to ensure residents are not setting off illegal fireworks. Violators could face a $500 citation for having illegal fireworks within city limits.
"The biggest thing is trying to keep the public safe," Page said.
Hannah Grover covers Aztec and Bloomfield, as well as general news, for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652.