Local bans ground aerial fireworks

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Due to extremely dry conditions, both the Village of Magdalena and the Socorro County Commission this week banned the use of most fireworks for the next 30 days.

This is in addition to the Stage II fire restrictions in effect in the Magdalena Ranger District of Cibola National Forest.

Although New Mexico state law forbids a total ban on fireworks, it does allow counties and municipalities to restrict certain types, mainly all aerials, including "stick-type rockets, helicopters, aerial spinners, missile-type rockets, ground audible devices, firecrackers and display fireworks."

The ordinances are effective immediately and cover the next 30 days.

Aside from the pre-approved fireworks display at New Mexico Tech on the Fourth of July, the only fireworks allowed are "cone fountains, ground spinners, illuminating torches, toy smoke devices, wheels and mine fireworks," and a readily available source of water is encouraged.

Violation of the ordinance is misdemeanor and punishable by a fine of not more than $500, 90 days in jail, or both.

In the city of Socorro, Mayor Ravi Bhasker outlined a similar restriction in a proclamation in May. He said the fire and police departments will be inspecting fireworks stands for compliance with the proclamation and state statute.

"The proclamation can be rescinded by the governing body if drought conditions improve," City Clerk Pat Salome said.

In Magdalena, Fire Chief Richard Rumpf said firefighters were called last week to a small trash fire that nearly got out of control.

"We're in an extreme fire danger, higher than it has been so far this year," Rumpf said. "The feeling from the state and federal agencies is that we must do everything possible to eliminate the risk of out-of-control fires."

He said although the use of ground-based fireworks is permissible, precautions should be taken. "Use them in areas that are paved or barren or that have a readily accessible source of water."

Socorro County Fire Marshal Fred Hollis reported to the County Commission Tuesday that there have been two fires in the bosque in recent days.

"One was kept small," Hollis said. "A couple saw the fire on the highway right away and called. We were lucky there wasn't any wind blowing at the time."

He said the San Antonio Fire Department is to be commended for its quick responses.

Fire Management Officer Jack Dickey from State Forestry said the potential for fire remains high all over the Socorro District.

"Until the rain starts we must be very vigilant in our actions to make sure a fire doesn't get started," he added.