Fire chief urges cautionary measures to prevent grass fires

By Jared Tucker: PNT staff writer

Portales Fire Chief Gary Nuckols says dangerous conditions for fire exist in Roosevelt County.

According to Nuckols, a lot of dry vegetation left over from last year still poses a big fire threat. Even though there is some new green growth coming up in areas, “it won’t last long in these temperatures,” said Nuckols.

Nuckols said winds play a significant role in the fire danger this time of year because they spread grass fires rapidly and can bring severe thunderstorms with lots of lightning. Add that to a high heat index and low humidity, and conditions become favorable for grass fires, he said.

Lightning was blamed for a grass fire Monday that scorched 350 acres and forced the evacuation of one family at Roosevelt Roads 12 and U.

Nuckols has produced several radio public service announcements to get the word out in hopes of preventing grass fires.

“I think there’s more awareness than before,” said Nuckols.

According to Nuckols, there’s a lot of safeguards and prevention tips rural residents can use to prevent grass fires:

• When burning trash, burn in clear areas free of tall grass and weeds

• Have hand tools and a water hose nearby when burning

• Keep property clean and clear of tumbleweeds, tall weeds, and keep grass cut short especially around the home and storage buildings.

• For more tips and ideas for grass fire prevention and protecting rural property, visit http://www.firewise.org

State forestry officials are also asking visitors at state parks to use spark arrestors on all power equipment and off-road vehicles, and to not park vehicles in grassy areas.

Ashley Holland, a seasonal staff member at Oasis State Park, says no restrictions are in place at the park except the general no open-burning rule.