Three forests in northern New Mexico will be implementing fire restrictions next week to reduce the risk of human-caused fires.
Forest officials cited dry conditions in announcing the restrictions for the Carson, Cibola and Santa Fe forests. They’re also worried about the complexity of fighting wildfires amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Aside from the restrictions, fire managers are implementing several measures in response to COVID-19 to keep firefighters safe from potential transmission. That includes social distancing when possible, spreading fire camps out over larger areas, screening and testing personnel and identifying support functions that can be done virtually to reduce the number of people onsite.
The restrictions for the three forests will take effect May 20. They will prohibit campfires and driving off designated roads. Smoking also will be limited to enclosed vehicles, buildings or developed recreation areas or areas clear of vegetation and flammable material.
The Lincoln National Forest in southern New Mexico already is prohibiting campfires, and New Mexico’s state forester has imposed restrictions on fireworks, campfires, smoking and open fires on all non-municipal, non-federal and non-tribal lands statewide because of the escalating fire danger.
The latest map shows part of the northern half of the state is dealing with anywhere from abnormally dry conditions to extreme drought. Forecasters with the National Weather Service also say New Mexico is in for mostly dry, breezy and warmer weather through early next week.