TAOS, NM – February 11, 2021 – With most of northern New Mexico experiencing extreme drought, the 2021 fire season could start as early as late March or early April. Carson National Forest works with local, state, federal, tribal and non-governmental organizations to encourage New Mexicans to recognize that in our changing climates, forest fire preparation must be a year-round effort. In honor of a new campaign to prepare for forest fires in 2021 with our partners and the upcoming Valentine’s Day, the message for February is: Show some love to your home.
According to the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC), 58,250 wildfires burned 10.3 million acres in the U.S. in 2020, the largest number of acres in a year. As our seasons get warmer and drier, wildfires can break out at any time, which means New Mexicans must prepare and maintain their homes for the threat of falling embers and flames.
Show some love to your home by taking the time to identify areas at risk that need to be addressed before wildfire occurs. And remember, while you may not see the flames, the wind can carry hot embers from burning vegetation or other material that is at least a mile or more away from active wildfire.
Start with the top of the structure, work all the way down to the bottom, and then exercise from there.
- Check your roof. Houses with wooden or shingle roofs are more likely to be destroyed in wildfire. If possible, consider installing fireproof roofing material such as asphalt, metal, concrete, or clay tile shingles. A damaged roof with missing shingles and plastic skylights can also provide an easy entry point to hot embers from wildfire. Maintain flat roofs and make sure there are no cracks or exposed sub-layers.
- Clear your gutters, flat roofs and valleys in pitched roofs. Remove pine needles, leaves, or other material that may have accumulated over the winter. Embers can easily ignite in dried-out deposits.
- Check your air vents. Replace the standard 1/4 “mesh with 1/8” metal wire mesh (if building codes and airflow allow) to prevent devastating embers from entering attics, eaves, and crawl spaces. Keep the ventilation slots away from dirt and do not plant any bushes under or in front of the ventilation slots.
- What about walls? Replace flammable, melt-prone, or easily transferable exterior wall cladding with non-flammable or fireproof materials.
- Windows can be a weak point. Double-pane windows with hardened glass withstand higher fire intensities than single-pane windows.
- Clean your deck. Remove debris from under your deck and from the gaps between deck boards. Replace the wooden grille with a properly ventilated solid bar or with 1/8 inch wire mesh to keep embers out.
- Do not store firewood, gas cans, lawn mowers, cardboard, or other flammable materials near your home. Move these items at least 5 feet from the outside walls of the house.
- Landscaping could brighten up your home. Remember to replace combustible plants with refractory types, and replace wood chips with decorative rock for floor cover.
The Carson National Forest is working with the National Forests of Santa Fe and Cibola, the EMNRD Forestry Division, the Forest Stewards Guild, the Fire Adapted NM, and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) of New Mexico to create a calendar for preparation for Create forest fires in 2021 and share the message across multiple platforms, including social media, webinars, and community events. Bookmark the forest fire preparation website to follow the campaign year round. For more information, see these helpful resources:
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