Area fires remind us to be firewise

Fire season is here. Wildfires are breaking out all around the area — the most recent a massive blaze near Raton.

Six-thousand acres were burned in only one day, and crews were unable to get any of the fire contained as of Tuesday morning.

The Osha Canyon fire near Sipapu burned portions of the forest just over the hill from the Moreno Valley, threatening the area from the southwest.

The White Mountains are still on fire in Arizona, and only 16 percent of the blaze was contained as of press time, filling our skies with smoke. If recent fire activity is not a wake-up call for our communities to get serious about the overall conditions of our surrounding forests, the importance of thinning and firewise education, we don’t know what would be.

Wildland fires throughout the Southwest region have kept Village of Angel Fire firefighters and equipment tied up for about 12 consecutive weeks.Firefighters from Angel Fire and other New Mexico communities can be dispatched throughout the United States through the New Mexico Resource Mobilization Plan, a voluntary Joint Powers Agreement between New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department Forestry Division and local governments.

Under this plan, local fire department personnel and equipment are considered state resources. The Forest Division and its designees are the only entities that can request local resources, and local officials can accept or deny any request. It makes sense that Angel Fire’s crews helped at the Osha Canyon fire and are currently supporting the one in Raton. If a fire ever breaks out in Angel Fire, we would hope reciprocal help would come to our aid.

But we need to help our fire department by doing all we can to prevent fire in our area. Recent thinning grants have helped but are not enough. Property owners and those visiting need to make sure they are doing all they can.

Campers need to follow restrictions for fire. Property owners need to take advantage of free funds they can use to help thin their lots. The Village of Angel Fire has a contract with forester Stephanie Sandoval, who is willing to prescribe a thinning plan for any property owner. And there is money available to help with the actual work.

The forests are very dry and winds are keeping the area parched. We need to do everything we can to make sure we are extra causious this fire season as it looks like it’s heating up to be a long one.

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