Chaves County officials are again making a plea for residents to observe a fire ban in the county, which prohibits discharging any fireworks, just as law enforcement officials said Tuesday they plan to enforce the ban on the Fourth of July.
Georgiana Hunt, administrator for Chaves County Fire Services, said she has been fielding phone calls from residents asking whether or not fireworks are allowed in the county.
Hunt explained under the current state restrictions, fireworks are prohibited in the county. â€œIf you are in an unincorporated area, you fall under the auspices of the state burn ban. The state burn ban restricts fireworks,â€ she said.
â€œWeâ€™re a tinderbox and it wouldnâ€™t take much (to start a fire).â€ The use of any fireworks in an unincorporated area is strictly prohibited this year, according to state burn bans issued by the New Mexico State Forestry Division in April. The restrictions include private property, officials said.
Both the Chaves County Sheriffâ€™s Department and New Mexico State Policeâ€™s local district said Tuesday they would be enforcing the ban. There has not been a serious wildfire in Chaves County in weeks, but Hunt says that is just because of the quick response from firefighters. â€œBasically, weâ€™re just dodging bullets,â€ she said.
â€œThe only reason we havenâ€™t had an issue is because the volunteers, the city, State Forestry and the Bureau of Land Management have been on high alert this whole time.
â€œWhen we get one small fire, everybody is jumping on it immediately before it has a chance (to grow), but even then weâ€™ve had fires burn right up to the back door of homes,â€ she said.
Huntâ€™s message comes at the heels of Gov. Susana Martinezâ€™s announcement Monday urging New Mexicans to attend public displays and refrain from lighting off personal fireworks.
â€œThere is absolutely no reason to buy, sell or use personal fireworks in New Mexico this summer,â€ Martinez said in a statement.
â€œThe potential consequences are simply too severe and the patriotic thing to do this 4th of July is to attend a public fireworks display, or celebrate the 4th fireworks free.â€ As of Monday, 987 fires contributed to burning nearly 712,000 acres of land across New Mexico.
â€œI think youâ€™ll see a lot of enforcement,â€ said Stan Riggs, Chaves County manager.
â€œWe really canâ€™t afford having fires.â€ The cityâ€™s public display is slated to be held on the Fourth of July.