Picture of bonfire posted on Instagram sparks concerns

Posted at: 11/13/2013 10:28 PM
By: Caleb James, KOB Eyewitness News 4

By now everyone who uses social media should know, posting certain photos can get you into trouble.

On Wednesday, we saw a photo that really surprised us.

We wanted to see what first responders thought about it.

It's a picture you have to look at more than once to understand how dangerous the situation could be.     

It's a photo of a big bonfire burning in what looks like a backyard. The Tweeter confirmed to us that's what it is, though he stopped short of telling us exactly where in Albuquerque it happened. 

In dry mid-drought New Mexico, it's nothing to laugh about.

The caption reads, "In Albuqeurque they burn s**t at parties. Aight."

"The young me is like, 'Don't sound old!'" said jogger Merritt Glover.

Glover lives near UNM. She said she sees the occasional bonfire in her neighborhood.

At the risk of sounding old, she said the one in the photo looks irresponsible.

"That's very dangerous," said Albuquerque fire marshal Victor Padilla. "That would be considered an illegal burn if it were set for any recreational or celebratory type purposes."

Padilla says the fire we found in that Instagram shot breaks many rules.

"If you are to have that type of a burn, you do require a permit," said Padilla.

A permit must be granted 10 days before the bonfire. But fires are only approved on days when burning is allowed in Bernalillo County. It also has to be 50 feet from fences, or structures.

Padilla said the fire in the photo is totally out of compliance, and that's serious.

"It would be a criminal charge," he said.

If AFD had responded to the fire in that photo, Padilla said that person would be cited -- with a possible $500 fine, and or 90 days in jail.

Penalties would be much steeper if anyone got hurt.

"It would be a criminal charge," said Padilla.

So what about a fire pit? Lots of people have those.

You don't need a permit if the pit is smaller than three feet by three feet. But you are supposed to make sure it's a burn day first.

The hotline to call within Albuquerque and Bernalillo County to find that information is 505-468-7200.