The Torrance County Fire Department reported three different fires last week, as high winds and red flag conditions started to arise.
Early in the morning on March 18, a house fire was reported south of Edgewood.
Torrance County Fire Chief Don Dirks said a barbecue grill on the porch of the house was not properly extinguished the night before, causing a fire that traveled from the porch, under the house and into the rafters. The house was a total loss, although crews arrived in less than 20 minutes.
On March 15, fire crews responded to two different fires within hours of each other. The first was in Manzano at about 9 p.m. the call came into Torrance County dispatch.
Dirks said the fire was caused by “super high winds” when a power line hit a tree which caught on fire and was put out. He said “the power company didn’t trim the tree [after the fire] and the tree fell on the power line a second time and caught on fire again.” He said the fire then spread to a field and from the field spread to a structure nearby.
He said there were no injuries as no one was actively living in the structure. He said they were able to get the fire “knocked down” in about 20 minutes but because the building was being used as a storage area, they had to clear it out to access the fire and to get that done and get the fire extinguished took a few hours.
Also on March 15, around 9 p.m. the Moriarty Fire Department, Moriarty Police Department and Central New Mexico Electric Coop responded to a call that a transformer was on fire. Dirks said the transformer is on Route 66 about a mile west of Moriarty city limits.
Moriarty Fire Chief Todd Hart said a pole was on fire at the very top and the fire was likely caused by the wind shorting out lines which can cause them to arc. He said CNMEC was out all day repairing downed lines due to the wind.
Hart said the fire department was dispatched at 9:07 p.m and CNMEC arrived around 11 p.m. to turn the power off. He said they could not extinguish the fire until the power was out. Hart said by 11:51 p.m. they had the fire completely extinguished.
Dirks said, “Honestly, I haven’t seen as much fire activity as we have had in the last 30 days in the last year. Fire danger is extremely high.”
Sandia and Mountainair ranger districts both remain in “moderate” fire danger.
The East Mountain Interagency Fire Protection Association, EMIFPA, announced online they have begun their annual fire preparedness meetings and public education forums.
This year it is entirely online and run via Zoom. EMIFPA’s website says they are recording all of the meetings and online access is available to watch past forums. On March 20, from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. they will be presenting “Wildfire Preparedness-Resolve to be Ready” by Francesca LaManna of the USFS Sandia Ranger District.
According to EMIFPA’s press release, the “new format will allow for training in a safe environment so [the public] can continue to learn about wildfire.” To reserve a spot in the program email firstname.lastname@example.org.