Forest Service gears up for fire season

Posted at: 12/26/2012 6:04 PM
Updated at: 12/26/2012 6:24 PM
By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4

New Mexico firefighters are preparing for another dangerous and devastating fire season, now that the federal government's long range forecast is calling for another warm, dry spring.

It's now been three years of severe drought for most of the state and there's no end in sight.

The U.S. Forest Service and the state Forestry Division are certainly used to it now, and they are already planning for another rough year.

"We're coming to realize that we can't take anything for granted in the forecast," said the Forestry Division's Dan Ware. "Whether it's calling for good conditions or bad conditions we just have to do our jobs and our job is to prepare the state for the eventuality of wildfire."

Last spring brought New Mexico historic record breaking fires, the biggest and most destructive ever in our state. Firefighters know the area is looking at similar conditions in 2013.

The fire danger is already posted as "high" in the Rio Grande bosque, the long narrow urban forest that chokes the banks of the river through the heart of the city of Albuquerque. That's where KOB Eyewitness News 4 found Art West out for a hike.

"Certainly this is a beautiful area to walk around and be with yourself," said West. " All of this could be gone in a matter of minutes, and that's a scary thought."

It is indeed, and now the National Interagency Fire Center says an early onset of fire season is possible in New Mexico and Colorado starting late this winter. We might not even get to wait until springtime.