Drought fuels fireworks fears

Posted at: 05/10/2013 5:57 PM
Updated at: 05/10/2013 6:31 PM
By: Jill Galus, KOB Eyewitness News 4

The drought is fueling fear about fireworks, nearly two months before the 4th of July.

Albuquerque is under what is referred to stage one fire restrictions. This is enforced all the time, year-round. No fireworks, of any kind, are allowed in the bosque or any city-owned area.

Officials with the Albuquerque Fire Department and the Santa Fe Fire Department say restrictions will only increase as the drought worsens.

Rain soaked the ground Friday afternoon. Even so, fire officials say it could only take a spark for all the dry vegetation to go up in flames.

Santa Fe Fire Marshal Reynaldo Gonzales said Santa Fe already passed a resolution declaring extreme drought conditions.

"It is, but I think the conditions warrant it," Gonzales said. "Because of the legislation and the current firework bills that did not get passed, we are unable to eliminate fireworks completely or ban them."

Only the fireworks that stay burning on the ground are legal.

Albuquerque is facing just as bad of a drought and also has restrictions in place.

In the bosque or any open area, fireworks are strictly prohibited, especially the aerial ones that shoot up into the sky like roman candles and bottle rockets.  
Aerials are also banned in Santa Fe.

Also banned in open areas in Albuquerque is smoking, campfires, camping and the use of any equipment that sparks.

Gonzales says imposing and enforcing restrictions is the best chance at preventing major wild fires.

"It's written to where it gets re-looked at every month, so every 30 days we have to resubmit it, but if we do get, for some reason, a lot of moisture we can take it off also," Gonzales said.

If caught violating the fire restrictions ordinance in Albuquerque, you could face a $500 fine and, or up to 90 days in jail.

The Albuquerque Fire Department plans to have a meeting next week to propose increasing fire restrictions even more in open space areas.