Severe drought sparks NM’s early wildfire season

Extremely dry conditions and strong winds are being blamed for starting New Mexico's fire season about two months earlier than normal. [Photo courtesy of NASA.]

Extremely dry conditions and strong winds are being blamed for starting New Mexico’s fire season about two months earlier than normal. [Photo courtesy of NASA.]

Troy Wilde

Public News Service | NM

ALBUQUERQUE – It appears that New Mexico may be in for a long and eventful fire season following a very early start. 

Arlene Perea, the fire information officer with the Albuquerque Zone Type 3 Incident Management Team, says fire season doesn’t usually start until late April or May.

But very dry conditions and strong winds are creating nearly ideal wildfire conditions.

“Probably the earliest I’ve ever been out is April,” she adds. “We may have small fires, but we don’t normally have anything that would cause a need to bring in a team to manage it.”

Perea says a nearly 450 acre wildfire about 20 miles south of Albuquerque on the Isleta Pueblo began over the weekend, and as of Wednesday was at least 50 percent contained.

She says it appears the blaze was human-caused and there are no reports of injury or property damage.

Perea says an early fire season will likely cause towns, cities and counties to implement burning restrictions.

“We just encourage them to check with their local officials and find out what their rules and regulations are for burning, to make sure that they’re within the law,” she adds.

Perea says heavy rains last fall caused wild grasses to grow in abundance throughout the state, which are now helping to fuel the wildfires.

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