BURN PERMIT SEASON CREATES CHALLENGES FOR COUNTY

BURN PERMIT SEASON CREATES CHALLENGES FOR COUNTY

Since last year, requests for permits from the Doña Ana County Fire Marshal's Office to burn vegetation have spread like wildfire, and volunteer fire departments are squelching an increasing number of permitted open-burn fires that get out of residents' control.

Fire Marshal Paul Chavez said his office has issued more than 130 open-burn permits during the month of June, and more than 3,500 during the last year.

Residents often apply for permits to burn weed overgrowth, garden remnants and fallen leaves. With the increasing number of permits sought by residents, volunteer fire departments are responding to an increasing number of out-of-control fires that started as open-burn fires.
During 2005, volunteer fire departments have responded to almost 70 open-burn fires that spread beyond the permitted open-burn site.

"That's more than double during the same period last year," Chavez said.

Chavez said the increased open burning has not only been a hazard to residential property, but the smoke in the air causes many health problems for nearby residents.

"Asthma sufferers tend to have a more difficult time in our dry climate when there's a lot of smoke in the air," Chavez said.

Chavez suggests residents try to recycle and regularly tend to unwanted vegetation on their properties. "Leaves and garden waste can be mulched for fertilizer, and the easiest way to deal with weeds is to just keep them pulled," Chavez said.

For more information, call Grant A. Taylor, assistant to the director of public information, at (505) 647-7290. Anyone calling from outside the Las Cruces area may call toll-free at 1-877-827-7200 and request extension 7290.