Raging wildfire
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Fire Managers encourage Homeowners & Landowners to create a Defensible Space


Fire season may seem far off while there are still patches of snow dotting the landscape around, but vegetation will quickly dry out in spring’s warm temperatures, rapidly increasing the potential for wildfires.  This is concerning to fire managers at New Mexico State Forestry, Cibola National Forest & National Grasslands and forests across New Mexico.

“Many communities around the state where homes are directly adjacent to forested or natural areas are vulnerable to wildfire.  Property owners can take some simple steps to protect their homes and businesses from this risk.” said Steve Hattenbach, Forest Supervisor.

“Taking the initiative to be well prepared for a wildfire will not only ensure the survivability of your home and property, but also the safety of your family, neighbors, and firefighters,” said Donald Griego, State Forester.  “Programs such as Firewise USATM ; Ready, Set, Go; and Living with Fire are excellent resources that can help New Mexicans understand the risk of wildfire and how to protect themselves.”

This is the perfect time of year to begin creating a defensible space.  This means creating a buffer zone or fire break around the home that is free of grass, shrubs, trees, and other flammable materials such as wood piles.  Starving an approaching wildfire of fuel will help decrease the fire’s intensity and improve the probability of a home surviving the burn.

Here are a few suggestions for creating a defensible space:

  • Remove dead or dying branches from trees and shrubs around the home.
  • Remove leaves and needles from the roof and gutters.
  • Trim tree branches that are hanging over the roof or chimney.
  • Place wood piles and other combustible materials at least 30 feet from the home.
  • Clear vegetation from around propane tanks.
  • Mow your lawn on a regular basis.
  • Consider planting fire-resistant vegetation around the home.

For more information, please visit https://www.nfpa.org/Public-Education/By-topic/Wildfire/Firewise-USAhttp://www.emnrd.state.nm.us/SFD/; orhttps://www.fs.usda.gov/cibola


Northwest Crown Fire Modelling Experiment. USFS photo


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Wildfires Near Me: Wildfires Near Me is a beta web application that focuses on keeping you informed about wildfires in your area.  You’ll need to set up an account.

Weather alerts: A free service providing severe weather email alerts that include current radar, weather conditions (including fire weather alerts), and forecast links.

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Infrared Maps: On large fires infrared flights may be conducted daily as needed and when feasible. These maps are posted as available.

Interactive fire maps:  Enterprise Geospatial Portal

Google Earth Wildland Fire Data:  Must have the Google Earth program to open fire data layers on your computer.

USFS Wildland Fire Assessment System Maps:  Daily maps combining the fire danger data for Canada and Mexico through the Canadian Wildfire Information System (CWFIS) and the fire danger from the US Wildland Fire Assessment System (WFAS).

New Mexico Inter-Agency Initial Attack Zones: Initial Attack Zones are boundaries that are agreed upon by all cooperating agencies and updated and maintained annually by the New Mexico BLM State Office Fire Program and GIS program with input from various Dispatch Zone boards (database download).

New Mexico State Forestry interactive fire history map: Wildfire history in the state of New Mexico and relevant fire management data.

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