As temperatures soar near 100 degrees in the East Mountains this week—at the peak time for fire danger in this area—officials are enacting fire restrictions and offering suggestions to stay safe in extreme heat.
Heat-related illnesses include heat exhaustion and heat stroke, also called sun stroke. “People suffer heat-related illness when their bodies are unable to compensate and properly cool themselves,” says a press release from the state’s department of health. “The body normally cools itself by sweating, but that’s not enough when the heat gets too much or exposure lasts too long. Your best defense against heat-related illness is prevention.”
The health department advises staying cool indoors; drinking more water than usual; avoiding alcohol or liquids with high amounts of sugar; and making sure to replace salt and minerals lost to sweating.
Other advice from the health department is keeping an eye on people at risk, and never leaving children or pets in cars. Untreated, the worst cases of heat-related issues can result in permanent damage to the nervous system or death.
Meanwhile, the Forest Service announced a temporary closure of the Dog Head Fire area; the closure impacts several trails and forest roads, but no campgrounds, according to a press release from the agency.
That closure will be in effect until June 30 next year or until rescinded. Violations could result in a $5,000 fine for individuals or $10,000 for groups, imprisonment, or both, the press release says. To learn more about the closure, contact the Mountainair Ranger District at 505-847-2990.
Thinning projects by the Forest Service continue in the area, with work in the Sandia Ranger District ongoing near the Oak Flat and Pine Flat areas off N.M. 337.
The project area encompasses 18,800 acres with high tree density. The project will continue “for several years until all treatments are completed,” a press release says. “In the next few months, mastication will occur on approximately 600 acres around the Oak Flat Group Picnic Area, the Pine Flat Picnic Area, and land adjacent to Kirtland Air Force Base,” the press release says.
A masticator in a Forest Service thinning project started the Dog Head Fire at this time last year.
According to the Forest Service, no trail or recreation site closures are anticipated as part of the thinning project, and debris from mechanical treatments will be cleared within 24 hours from trails.
Fire restrictions are now in place in the Sandia and Mountainair ranger districts, with more restrictions expected around the area as temperatures climb in the hottest month of the year in New Mexico.
Fire restrictions vary slightly from one jurisdiction to another, but basically prohibit building fires outdoors, including fireworks and cigarettes.
The Bernalillo County Sheriff’s department is hosting a community meeting June 28 at the McGrane Safety Complex in Tijeras. The meeting will feature an open discussion on the roles of respective agencies during an evacuation, and how citizens can prepare for evacuation. The meeting will start at 6:30 p.m.