Berrendo Fire Chief Jim Higgins said Wednesday that despite dry conditions, his department has not had to deal with too many fires.
“So far, this year hasn’t been too bad,” Higgins said.
He added that typically his department has to respond to two or three fires around the Fourth of July started by fireworks, but this year they didn’t receive any calls.
More than 73,000 wildfires burn an average of about 7 million acres of private, state and federal land in the U.S. each year, according to the U.S. Forest Service website.
Controlled burns, or fires purposely started to dispose of tree branches can turn into larger fires if not properly monitored.
Berrendo Firefighters were called to help spray down a controlled burn July 5 in a pecan grove on Montana Avenue between West Point Lodge Road and West Lodge Avenue. The flames were extinguished in about an hour.
Higgins said controlled burns should be monitored by the people who start them and keep a source of water nearby.
“We ask that they watch the fire,” Higgins said.
Piles of branches or brush that are burned should also be no larger than 3 feet in diameter, he said.
Higgins added that people should not burn after dark.
“We prefer they burn only in daylight hours,” he said.
People should notify dispatch at the Pecos Valley Communications Center at the Roswell Police Department in advance if they plan to start a controlled burn and give the time and address where the burn will happen.
Higgins said telling authorities ahead of time about any controlled burn will prevent the department from mistaking it for a larger fire and sending a crew to the scene if passersby call it in.
People can contact the Communications Center at 624-7590.
Breaking news reporter Alex Ross can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 301, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.