Talon News - Good Local News

J.R.'s Corner



This fine Wednesday morning in Aztec, my family and many other Aztec-ans awoke to the smell of smoke, eyes burning, and a white / blue haze in town and extending down -valley toward Shiprock. Personally, I bounced out of bed in emergency mode. Quicker than a double coffee, I was awake and looking into the situation. Viewing the area from atop airport mesa, the smoke and haze filling the valley and blocking views underlined an ongoing public concern. It is Fire Season.

It CAN happen here. The 2000+ acre fire in Durango, 30,000 acres in Gila, 36,000 acres in Ute Park, the weekend fire near Aztec Speedway. These all started as tiny fires. These are only a few of the fires in the territory since June 1.

Visiting with area residents, since the burn ban was announced by the County on May 26, some indicate that the ban “really doesn’t apply to us in Aztec.” This belief is a concern, is dangerous, and is incorrect.

While Aztec City Commissioners consider proclaiming an official Aztec burn ban during the 6/12 Commission mtg., City Manager Steve Mueller points out that Aztec has always followed San Juan County on bans.

So, where does this leave the citizen? To burn or not to burn?

As of this writing, we are in a severe drought, our Durango neighbors to the north have been fighting the 416 fire for six days. This fire has taken over 5,000 acres and evacuated 800 homes, burning 14 structures. Colorado is flying in firefighters from all over, and tanker aircraft buzz the area dropping loads day and night. The emergency response costs will be staggering, and the impact on tourism, businesses, homes, and families is likely to be worse.

While, not yet officially under a city wide burn ban here, we Aztec residents should adhere to San Juan County guidelines as good citizens. This means when outdoors: No firearms, No fireworks, No smoking, No burn pits, No chainsaws or improper engine mufflers, No campfires, No leaf or debris burning, No welding.

In this dry season, a small fire, and a very small breeze can become a very big problem in a very short time. If in doubt, please contact the Fire department at 505-334-1180. Later in TALON this week we offer a closer look at the updated San Juan County BLM restrictions as announced June 6th.

And, we can fight back. Eyes and Ears. Mind the ban. Keep a close watch. Call 911 if you see smoke or flames.

Keeping a bug out bag and a fire extinguisher handy couldn’t hurt either.


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