U.S. Drought Monitor still has county in exceptional drought

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FARMINGTON — The extremely dry winter and the city’s water restrictions have prompted a burn ban within Farmington limits.

The burn ban went into effect Tuesday and will remain in place until further notice, according to Fire Chief David Burke.

The U.S. Drought Monitor shows San Juan County in exceptional drought, which is the most severe category.

The water level in the Animas River has increased recently. There was only a trickle of water in the river in late April.

The conditions prompted Farmington to enact the first stage of its water conservation plan, which calls for a voluntary reduction in water use.

While the city will not fine people for using water at this point, residents will be fined for unauthorized burning.

“Any little fires can get big,” he warned.

Burke said people who have yard waste and weeds should take them to the landfill to dispose of them. He said last week's moisture already has dissipated from the environment, and everything is “tinder dry.”

“The fires that are happening are getting bigger a lot faster,” Burke said.

He said the fires also are causing more damage.

This year’s drought conditions have been compared to conditions in 2002, but Burke said this situation seems to be different from what he remembers from 16 years ago.

“The fires that we’re getting seem to be the next level from back then,” he said.

The fire department is concerned that fires will get out of control easily and could destroy houses and possibly threaten lives.

“It’s got us on edge right now,” Burke said.

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at hgrover@daily-times.com.

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