As drought conditions in New Mexico persist, so do the fire dangers.
To combat the chances of a fire, the town of Taos Council passed a resolution and two ordinances during a Tuesday (June 12) meeting effectively declaring fire restrictions and banning certain fireworks across town.
The ordinances and resolution go into effect immediately and will remain in place for the next 30 days in response to the severe drought affecting the state.
"The conditions have not changed at all," said Taos Fire Chief Leroy Gonzales.
The ban is a continuation from the previous month's restrictions, which expire 30 days after they have been enacted. Because of the lack of sufficient rain in Taos, and across the state, officials have banned the sale of all aerial fireworks as well as all open fires in the town.
Ordinance 18-07 bans nearly all fire sources within the town including campfires, vegetation fires and even smoking. The ordinance recalls a ban on smoking within town-owned parks and also bans tossed cigarette butts.
"It's just not safe to burn at the moment," said Fire Marshal Erik Oiesen-Vreeke during the meeting.
In addition to the town's strict ban on fires, the council also passed a resolution extending the fireworks ban in Taos. The resolution bans the sale and use of "missile-type rockets" and any other aerial firework. Those fireworks legal to use in town limits are only to be used on paved or clear surfaces with water close at hand.
Drought conditions in New Mexico have forced other areas to impose similar bans on the devices as the risk for fires has been abnormally high this season, according to officials.
Nearly all of New Mexico sits under some sort of drought conditions, including Taos County which is listed as under "exceptional drought," the most severe category on the list.
Gonzales said the department has already had 14 calls for brush fire and illegal burning in the first 12 days of the month.
Scofflaws will be held to account, said town officials. "If (the public) are going to use fireworks, they are going to be held responsible if they start a fire that gets out of hand," said Taos Mayor Dan Barrone.
Barrone said this season is the worst he had seen in years as far as dry conditions in Taos.
No fireworks will be sold in parking lot tents or roadside stands this year, according to officials, and the Taos Fire Department is discouraging anyone from bringing in illegal fireworks from other areas.
Despite the ban, which will remain past the annual July 4 celebrations, the town will still hold its annual fireworks display.
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