Fire officials dissuade use of fireworks

Tony Bullocks: Freedom New Mexico Clovis and Portales fire officials say it would be better for local residents to not set off fireworks from home on Monday because of the state’s extreme drought conditions.

Alisa Boswell

With extreme drought conditions in New Mexico, local fire officials are saying it’s probably best for Clovis and Portales residents to not set off fireworks at home.

Portales Fire Chief Gary Nuckols and Clovis Fire Chief Ray Westerman both agreed that while fireworks are banned in the county and only certain ground fireworks are allowed inside Clovis and Portales city limits this Fourth of July, residents still need to take some extra precautions because of the dry weather conditions.

“Everything around us is a tinder box right now and a spark off of anything can start a fire,” Nuckols said. “Even though fireworks are not allowed out in the county, there are still plenty of bushes, shrubs and dry grass in the city that can catch fire.”

Nuckols and Westerman both said residents should make sure they set off fireworks from a clear surface with no grass or other flammable material, such as concrete or other pavement.

The two fire chiefs said residents should also keep a pressurized water source nearby in case of an emergency.

“I think our local leaders, city and county, have done all they can to restrict fireworks,” Westerman said. “It’s up to the public now. There’s still a tremendous fuel source in the county.”

Westerman said aerial fireworks are not allowed at homes this year, only sparklers and ground fireworks, such as spinners and fountain fireworks. All airborne fireworks are prohibited.

Westerman and Nuckols both said they would advise Clovis and Portales residents to save their fireworks until the drought improves and spend the holiday enjoying the public firework shows in Clovis and Portales.

“We just can’t stress the safety enough,” said Clovis Fire Marshall Allan Silvers. “We’ve had the two showers recently but not enough to really improve the drought conditions.”

The two fire chiefs said for residents who do choose to do home fire works, they should call 911 immediately if a fire starts and should be mindful of wind conditions.

Westerman said another area local residents should exercise precaution in is grilling. He said people should not use any open flames, such as fire pits, bonfires or open coals.

Silvers said if winds surpass 10 mph, it is probably best residents stop their firework use.

“It boils down to common sense,” Westerman said. “As long as people have common sense, that will go a long way.”