Know Before You Go! NM Fire Information

As we come together to honor our fallen heroes this Memorial Day weekend and throughout the summer, support firefighters and protect your community by preventing any further wildfires. We know of historic levels of fire danger and restrictions and closures are in place in many areas of the state to prevent wildfires – in fact, many public lands are under high levels of restrictions or are completely closed to public access. This month, you can do your part by learning about restrictions and area closures across the state before planning your weekend and summer activities or any recreational activity on public lands.

In New Mexico, wildfire agencies and essential partners are asking residents and visitors to please recreate responsibly and help prevent human-caused wildfires. Continuing our “Wildfire Preparedness Lasts All Year” campaign, our message for June is Know before you go! Here are some things to keep in mind when planning your outdoor activities:

Always check fire restrictions and closures in the area you plan to visit BEFORE you go. The New Mexico Department of Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources and the State Forester implemented revised statewide fire restrictions on May 19. Order 2022-02 prohibits smoking, use of fireworks, campfires, open fires, open burning, and use of certain equipment (i.e. chainsaws, cutting torches, welders , grinders and other similar equipment). Ordinance 2022-02 applies to all non-municipal, non-federal, and non-tribal lands in New Mexico. This order cancels and replaces any previous order.

Fire restrictions on other lands, including federal and tribal jurisdictions, are generally implemented in stages as follows:

  • Step 1: Prohibited:
    • Building, maintaining, assisting or using a fire, campfire, charcoal, coal or wood-burning stove, except in a developed recreation site or improved site.
    • Smoking, except in an enclosed vehicle or building, an equipped recreation site, or while stationary in an area at least three feet in diameter that is sterile or free of flammable materials.
    • Possess, discharge or use any type of firework or other pyrotechnic device. Be aware that fireworks are still prohibited on federal lands in NM.
  • Step 2: Prohibited:
    • Build, maintain, assist or use a fire, campfire, charcoal, coal or wood stove in any location.
    • Smoking, except in a closed vehicle or building.
    • Use fireworks, explosives or other incendiary devices.
    • Use of a chainsaw or other equipment powered by an internal combustion engine (is usually limited to cooler, wetter morning hours).
    • Operate or operate an internal or external combustion engine without a properly installed, maintained, and operating spark arrester.
    • Weld or use acetylene or other open flame torch.
    • Owning or operating a motor vehicle off highways on federal lands, except when parking in an area devoid of vegetation within 10 feet of the roadway.
    • Violate any state law, which specifically relates to combustion, fires, or which is intended to prevent or restrict the spread of fire
  • Stage 3: This is a closure that prohibits access to public lands due to extreme fire danger or threat to public health and safety from an ongoing wildfire.

Before driving even short distances, do a 360-degree turn and make sure your vehicle is ready to roll, tires and brakes are in good working order, and you’re not dragging any chains. It is not commonly known that vehicles can emit particles from the exhaust or bits of a failing catalytic converter that start roadside fires and the best method of prevention is proper vehicle maintenance. Once underway ensure all smoking related materials are safely disposed of, do not park on dry grass. Be prepared by carrying a fire extinguisher in your vehicle and a shovel – these will come in handy in the event of a fire to ensure safe travel.

Other useful resources include the Ready, set, go ! Program (video), Living with Fire: A Homeowner’s Guide, New Mexico, Firewise USA®and New Mexico Fire Adaptive Learning Network (FACNM).

Your NM Wildfire Cooperators, including the BLM New Mexico, New Mexico Forestry Divisionthe Forest Stewards Guildthe New Mexico Fire Adaptive Learning Network, Santa Fe, Cibola and carson State forests, Coalition of New Mexico Conservation Districts, National Park Serviceand Bureau of Indian Affairs, to continue a wildfire preparedness calendar in 2022 and share the message on multiple platforms, including social media, webinars and community events. Bookmark the forest fire preparedness webpage to follow the campaign throughout the year.

About Madeline Dennis

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