Firefighters preparing for height of fire season

Freedom New Mexico: Thomas Garcia A sign outside Portales indicates the level of fire danger each day.

By Thomas Garcia: Freedom New Mexico

Area fire departments are preparing for what they consider the height of fire season.

High winds and low precipitation are contributing to the high fire danger in Roosevelt and Curry counties, officials say.

“Everybody needs to understand that because of the dry conditions, a fire could start from numerous ways, especially with the wind,” said Clovis Fire Chief Ray Westerman.

“The elements for a bad wildfire are present for the surrounding areas,” said John Bridges, Portales fire chief. “High grass growth from last year’s rains and dry conditions make a hazardous situation for area residents.”

Precipitation from January through March in Portales and Clovis is more than 7 inches less than averages reported by the National Weather Service in Albuquerque, said Brent Wachter, an NWS fire weather forecaster.

The low humidity and potential for high winds has the NWS issuing a fire watch for the east-central plains, including Portales and Clovis, this afternoon with potential for additional watches through Sunday, Wachter said.

“This is a critical week of fire danger for Portales and Clovis with no relief … in sight,” Wacther said.