Unseasonably warm weather, coupled with a lack of moisture in far West Texas and southeastern New Mexico, has led Guadalupe Mountains National Park officials to raise the fire danger rating to "high" in the park.
The rating helps describe the general conditions over an extended area. The high rating indicates that all fine fuels, such as grass, can ignite easily and fires can start quickly from most causes. Park officials also warn that under these conditions fires can spread rapidly and short-distance spotting is common, and that fires may become serious and their control difficult unless they are attacked successfully while small.
During previous years, including 2010 and 2011, the park experienced similar conditions, which led to the start of early fire seasons. In 2011, large fires were being reported in February and the fire season continued through August.
“This is looking to become another extended fire season, mostly due to the lack of moisture, and the likelihood of little, if any, significant moisture between now and spring. We may be responding to wildfires during winter and early spring” said park Superintendent Dennis A. Vásquez.
Park officials are asking everyone to be vigilant and help minimize the risk of wildfire by following some simple tips:
* Don’t park vehicles on dry grass.
* If you smoke, do so in areas that clear of vegetation and dispose of butts in your vehicle ashtray or in receptacles only.
* Remember, it’s illegal to possess or use fireworks on public lands.
* Be aware of your surroundings – fires can start easily and spread quickly.
Park information, including park conditions, restrictions or closures, may be found on the park’s website or by contacting the Pine Springs Visitor Center at (915) 828-3251 x2124.
The Pine Springs Visitor Center is open daily (except for Christmas) from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.