Hot, dry weather fuels flames

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With extraordinarily dry weather and the eccentricity of Fourth of July week, a few man-made fires occurred recently, according to local fire officials.

Photo courtesy of Dave Thomas

For the city, Socorro Fire Chief Joe Gonzales said two structure fires and one grass fire occurred between last Thursday and Monday. The structure fires took place on Northeast Frontage Road and the grass inferno near College Avenue and Miller Place.

Photo courtesy of Lois Phillips: Crews responded to a fire near College Avenue and Miller Place on Monday.

One of the structures was an abandoned home, but the other at Wagon Wheel Mobile Home Park did have current residents and did sustain some sizable damage, particularly to two sheds that were destroyed, Gonzales said. No injuries have been reported in any of the fires.

“I would venture to say at Wagon Wheel, it was kids playing with fireworks, and the one on the Northeast Frontage that was (caused by) maybe cigarettes, based on conversations we had with people,” Gonzales said.

The grass fire was confirmed to have been ignited by children playing with fireworks, according to Gonzales.

The Socorro area is hoping for a drink of rainwater starting this week prior to Fourth of July, and weather forecasts look promising for at least some moisture soon.

“It’s just a bad time of the year,” Gonzales said. “We had a little rain in the fall of last year, and this spring we haven’t really had any, so there’s a bit more (fire) fuel, and people just need to be more cautious. Those three fires were man-made fires, but just not intentionally.”

According to numbers provided by SFD, between June 20 and July 5 when fireworks are on sale, in 2012 there were seven fires but none were firework-related. In 2013 there were nine fires with three being firework-related but none were structure fires. This year, as of Wednesday, there have been eight fires with one being confirmed as firework-related.

Socorro County fire departments in the metro area also saw some activity throughout the week, Fire Marshal Fred Hollis said. There were a few wild land and grass fires that were started through accidental means.

Additionally, Hollis said, was that some of the recent fire calls to dispatch have been misleading.

He said sometimes his departments as well as assisting agencies received calls about fires that had burn permits and were not classified as “out-of-control.”

Although smoke has been noticed and people have been vigilant, Hollis said, he is asking people to call the county verify if the fire is not where a burn permit has been issued.

The main issue Hollis said the department has with those false alarms is it takes major resources to respond to something that isn’t dangerous.