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High winds create fire danger

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Despite recent wintry weather across parts of the New Mexico, wildfire danger is at high levels, especially in southern and eastern areas of the state, according to the New Mexico State Forestry Division.
A recent increase in the incidence of wildfire has Division staff urging all New Mexicans and visitors to the state to be cautious with their use of fire, even on days when high winds aren’t present.
 In just the last week, 19 wildfires have burned more than 5,800 acres, including the currently active Dog Canyon Fire in southern New Mexico. While the highest danger remains in the eastern and southern parts of the state, portions of the Rio Grande Bosque in the Albuquerque Metro area have moderate to very high fire danger as well.
 This weekend, the National Weather Service is predicting high winds and red flag warnings across many parts of New Mexico. These high winds will continue to dry out fine fuels and increase the potential for potentially catastrophic wildfire.
 Local, state, federal and tribal agency partners 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. Areas near use should be free of flammable debris and tall vegetation.
• If hauling a trailer, make sure chains are not dragging on the pavement to prevent sparks from causing roadside fires.
• Don’t throw burning matches or lit cigarettes to the side of a road or in areas with dry grass or weeds.
• Remember that fireworks are NEVER allowed on public lands.
• Log onto www.nmfire
info.com for more wildfire prevention and preparedness information.