After a year of canceled events and quarantining, Independence Day events around the East Mountains and Estancia Valley are back on schedule for the most part. Current fire conditions are still extremely dangerous.
Due to current “critical drought conditions” across the entire state, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed an executive order urging New Mexico cities and counties to consider banning the retail sale of fireworks in the state until drought conditions improve.
While state statute does not enable the executive to implement a statewide ban on fireworks, the governor’s office encouraged cities and counties to take action to prevent wildfires.
Nearly 90% of New Mexico is experiencing at least severe drought conditions, with significant portions of the state in extreme or exceptional drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.
Currently all National Forests in New Mexico are either in Stage 2 or Stage 1 fire restrictions, in addition to other potential restrictions in place across the state at the local level.
All known restrictions are posted at nmfireinfo.com. The State Forestry Division recommends checking with local fire departments, municipalities, or governing agencies to see if there are fire restrictions in place at any time.
The executive order does not affect municipal or county fireworks displays for the Fourth of July.
Torrance County Fire Chief Don Dirks said there are currently no restrictions in unincorporated Torrance County.
He said because the state announced severe drought conditions, at the next county commission meeting on July 14, the county fire department will announce “extreme fire conditions” and request that restrictions be put into place in the unincorporated parts of the county.
He said the county is not allowed to restrict open burning and fireworks less than 20 days before a holiday. When the state announced the drought conditions it was already less than 20 days until the Fourth of July. He said the county is following the lead of the state and is very concerned about the current fire conditions.
Santa Fe County has a resolution on its agenda for June 29, proclaiming “extreme fire conditions” and the final decision will be voted on today. According to spokesperson Carmelina Hart, it is very likely the county will vote to restrict the sale and use of aerial fireworks in the unincorporated parts of the county and the wildlands.
Bernalillo County Fire Department Deputy Chief Zach Lardy said there is a fire ban in place and a restriction on fireworks. He said everything that can be banned under the state law at a county level has been banned with the exception of professional public fireworks displays, like those put on annually by the cities of Santa Fe and Albuquerque.
“We depend on the public to recognize the risk,” Lardy said. He said the environment is “ripe to burn” and there are lots of homes and lives at risk in the event a fire takes off.
According to the state Fireworks Licensing and Safety Act, a municipality or county is not allowed to to regulate or prohibit the sale or use of any “permissible fireworks except aerial devices and ground audible devices.”
In addition, people who have permissible fire works: “ground fireworks and hand-held sparkling devices,” may not ignite them on wildlands, nor may they ignite them within a vehicle, at a vehicle or at a person or persons. Lardy said enforcement is based on the number of occurrences. The punishment is a $1,000 fine or one year of imprisonment or both.
Festivities for the Fourth
On July 2, Mountainair will kick off its annual Jubilee with a block party on Main Street starting at 8 p.m., when Al Hurricane Jr. will be performing his first post-Covid in-person concert. Some food vendors will be onsite, as well as Kilt Check Brewing with three different brews for people to try. The block party is free.
On July 3, the Ray Clark Memorial Parade will start at 10 a.m. Line-up for participants starts at 9 a.m. on Limit Avenue. During the parade, a “Wet Zone” will be available behind the highway barricade at the elementary school for visitors to get soaked by the Mountainair Fire Department.
At the Chavez Memorial Park starting at 11 a.m. there will be jumpers, food vendors, a root beer chugging contest, a mud volley ball tournament, a flaming hot eating competition, live music, a visit from the new Congresswoman, and Fear Factor games.
From 11 a.m. to 3 pm. there will be a car show in the parking lot of the Salinas National Monument office. The theme is honoring the history of the transportation used over time to visit Salinas. Cars attending vary from classic to modern and everything in between. The car show is free for spectators but there is an entry fee to enter a car into the show. For more information about entering call 505-847-2585. There will be local prizes donated by local businesses as well as cash prizes.
On July 3, there will be a block party at Buttercrust Pizza starting at 10 a.m. and going on “until they shut us down,” according to a social media post from the business. There will be live music, cars, vendors, food and drinks available.
On July 3 the Moriarty Lion’s Club will be hosting its annual Pancake Breakfast at the Lion’s Club from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. It’s an all-you-can-eat breakfast. There will also be a parade starting at 9 a.m., with lineup for participants is at 7:30 a.m. behind Tillery Chevrolet in Moriarty. There will be no fireworks display because of the drought.
On July 3, Founder’s Ranch is having a celebration from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. They will host a three-way shootout competition between Public Safety Officers, Cowboys, and Outlaws.
Public Safety Officers from various departments including law enforcement and the fire department will shoot against single action shooters (Cowboys) or against anyone (Outlaws). They will be competing for fastest shot at a target paying homage to the Old West style shoot outs. In addition, they will be offering breakfast and lunch. There will also be a flag ceremony, Civil War re-enactments, a gun fighter show at the end of the day, a water balloon fight with officers and a slip-and-slide with the Torrance County Fire Department. Founder’s Ranch will also be open for business on July 4 until noon.
On July 3 at Arthur Park there will be an Independence Day celebration from noon to dusk. There will be live music performed by Paul Pino and Tone Daddys from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. and from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. DJ Melanie Gallegos will provide music. Food will be available for sale provided by the American Legion Post 22. The Estancia Rotary Club will be hosting a horseshoe tournament from 12-1 p.m. There will also be vendors. A fireworks display will start at dusk.