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Due to dry-weather conditions in Las Cruces that are expected to continue through the Fourth of July holiday and worsening drought conditions across much of New Mexico, City of Las Cruces officials are urging Las Cruces residents to use fireworks safely.
Public gatherings for the Fourth of July have been cancelled in Las Cruces, but the city will host a fireworks display.
The federal Bureau of Land Management is also asking for the public’s help to prevent wildfires.
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham issued an executive order June 16 “urging New Mexico cities and counties to consider banning the retail sale of fireworks in the state through the summer or until drought conditions improve,” a news release from the governor’s office said.
“Approximately 75 percent of New Mexico is abnormally dry; more than half the state is experiencing at least moderate drought conditions and significant portions of the state are in a severe or extreme drought, according to the United States Drought Monitor. These percentages have increased dramatically over the past month,” the news release said.
The U.S. Drought Monitor was created in 1999. A weekly map showing U.S. drought conditions is produced jointly by the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Visit www.droughtmonitor.unl.edu/.
The governor’s order does not affect municipal fireworks displays for the Fourth of July, but state public health orders continue to limit the numbers of people who can gather publicly, and mandate social distancing and wearing face coverings.
In consideration of current conditions, Las Cruces officials said the use of fireworks within the city limits should “follow the safest practices possible.” They have asked that the use of fireworks be limited to “areas that are paved or barren and that have a readily accessible source of water.”
The city has cancelled this year’s Fourth of July celebration, Electric Light parade and community concert because of the public health orders, a city news release said. However, the city “is still planning a celebration to commemorate our national holiday in a safe and enjoyable way. The city Parks and Recreation Department is planning a Virtual Electric Photo Parade with a salute to our local heroes, including first responders, medical workers and all essential workers who have kept our community going through this pandemic,” the city news release said.
“The Las Cruces community can participate by submitting photos showing their patriotic spirit in several categories,” the release said. “Winners will be chosen in each category and all photos will be showcased in a virtual slideshow parade on the City’s YouTube channel, YouTube.com/clctv20.”
The city Parks and Recreation Department has announced that the city will celebrate July 4 with a community fireworks display beginning at approximately 9:15 p.m. on Saturday, July 4, visible “from almost every neighborhood in the city,” the city news release said.
The BLM, meanwhile, said 87 percent of all wildfires nationwide are caused by humans.
“The National Interagency Fire Center’s (NIFC) Predictive Services unit, which assesses wildfire potential throughout the country, predicts above-normal wildfire potential this year in New Mexico, Oregon, Washington, California, Nevada, Utah, Idaho, Montana, Colorado, Arizona and Hawaii due to expected high temperatures, dry vegetation and other weather factors including high winds,” the BLM said. “Because of these conditions, human-caused wildfire ignitions have the potential to quickly grow out of control and threaten lives, property and natural resources.
Additionally, people who live near wildlands should prepare their homes and communities for wildfire, the BLM said.
Visit www.nfpa.org and www.blm.gov. for more information.
Las Cruces fire chief urges fireworks caution
“The City of Las Cruces has approved the use and sale of “safe and sane fireworks” for almost 15 years now,” said Las Cruces Fire Chief Eric Enriquez. “This has proven to be the safest way to celebrate the Fourth of July, along with a city public display for residents to enjoy.
“The threat of fires is reduced by safe and sane, but this year another threat to consider is the health concern of the Coronavirus. As a community, we need to be safe and avoid the gatherings while maintaining safe distances.
“This year, fireworks are allowed, and hazards of fire and health concerns of the Coronavirus will be present. Know that the Las Cruces Fire Department is always available to respond to your emergency needs,” Enriquez said.