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Fire danger high during winter months

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SANTA FE ­­­— Wildfire danger levels are higher across parts of New Mexico right now, thanks to mild temperatures, dry conditions and gusty winds. The potential for fire is especially high in eastern and southeastern parts of the state where the lack of moisture is drying out fine, grassy fuels, according to New Mexico State Forestry Fire Prevention and Outreach Program Manager Dan Ware.
State Forestry officials are warning residents and visitors to use caution with any use of fire and to do their part in preventing wildfires.
Abundant seasonal rainfall during the recent monsoon season caused the rapid growth of grass and brush in New Mexico. With dry conditions across much of the state so far this winter, fuels are drying out and susceptible to fire.
State Forestry officials emphasize the following precautions and measures to help residents and visitors prepare for and prevent wildfires:
• When traveling by auto, only pull over into developed areas, such as rest stops, to prevent heat from catalytic converters or exhaust emissions from sparking fires in roadside grass.
• Never walk away from a burning or smoldering campfire. Use water and dirt to kill the fire. The ground should be cold to the touch before it is safe to leave.
• When starting a campfire, clear debris away from the fire ring and surround the fire with rocks. Keep water nearby.
• Use caution while operating equipment that can throw sparks or use open flames such as grinders and welding torches.