Talon News - Good Local News





On Friday, May 25th a fire erupted off of Highway 511 north of Navajo Dam State Park. A tremendous amount of billowing smoke was easily visible from Aztec and Flora Vista looking as if it was much closer to Cedar Hill. Nicholas Chavez, an employee at Navajo Damn State Park said there was a considerable amount of smoke on Friday evening and Saturday drifting through the Marina Boat Inspection Station Area during the blaze.

San Juan County Fire Chief, Craig Daugherty says this was an "impressive fire for this time of year. Under these (extreme drought) conditions, fires get big quick." He further explained that this fire, located approximately five miles south of the New Mexico/Colorado border named Arena Canyon Fire, took a lot of effort to bring under control. Chief Daugherty reasoned that any spark right now can easily cause the considerable dry vegetation to instantaneously flare and also cause fire to spread unusually fast, getting out of control. He urges citizens to remember there is an extreme fire danger due to our extreme drought. A total of 128 acres, 27 acres of NM State land and 101 acres of BLM land was fueled by Juniper trees, Pinon trees and brush. According to TALON sources, this fire was sparked by lightning.

David Louton, Safety Coordinator at Navajo Lake Marina, formerly a firefighter said, "Those Juniper's are like gasoline." Navajo Lake State Park was not evacuated nor closed during the fire. However, the Cottonwood Day Use area was closed for use as the Type 3 Incident Command Post while firefighters fought the blaze. NM Highway 511 was closed, 15 homes were threatened and as a precaution were evacuated. Thankfully, none of these structures were burned and no one was injured. On May 27th the evacuations were lifted and the highway was reopened. Firefighters from multiple agencies in San Juan County and Colorado fought the blaze on the ground also utilizing air support, bringing the fire to 90% containment as of May 29th.

Due to extreme drought conditions there is extreme fire danger in San Juan County. The Board of County Commissioners placed a ban on open burning until further notice which went into effect on May 24th, 2018. This includes:

1.) Open Burning, including burning of crop land, fields, rangeland, weeds, slash piles and prescribed burning.

2.) Campfires.

3.) Smoking except in enclosed buildings, within vehicles with ashtrays, or on paved or surfaced roads or within a private yard provided that butts are extinguished in ashtrays.

4.) The use of fireworks is prohibited in any area covered wholly or in part with timber, brush, grass, or other flammable vegetation.

5.) All devices using internal combustion engines must have a proper spark arrester installed. "Hot" vehicles must not be parked off pavement in areas with combustible vegetation.


6.) Cutting or grinding metal or using a welder, either arc or gas, or operating acetylene or other torch with open flame, except in areas cleared of flammable materials at least 10 feet in diameter and equipped with a chemical pressurized fire extinguisher of not less than 10 pounds capacity.

7.) Discharging, using, or possessing any combustible or explosive composition.

8.) Operating a chain saw without USDA or SAE approved spark arrester properly installed and working and having a chemical fire extinguisher on site of not less than 10 pounds capacity by weight.

9.) The burning of rubbish, which has been illegal in the State of New Mexico since 2003.

For more detailed information go to http://www.nmfireinfo.com

In addition to San Juan County, the New Mexico State Forestry Division, the United States Forest Service and BLM have also issued burn bans as the drought remains.


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