Los Alamos County Councilors approved a proclamation Tuesday evening during their regular meeting declaring extreme fire conditions exist in the County and imposing restrictions on the sale and use of fireworks.
Under the proclamation, the sale and use of aerial fireworks and ground audible fireworks including helicopters, aerial spinners, missile type rockets, stick type rockets, chasers and firecrackers is prohibited for the next 30 days in accordance with state statutes and the County Code. The proclamation limits the use of Roman candles, shells and mines within the County to areas that are paved or barren or that “have a readily accessible source of water for use by any homeowner or the public”.
County-approved fireworks displays such as the annual Fourth of July celebration at Overlook Park in White Rock will not be prohibited so long as a written permit is obtained and the display fireworks are purchased from a distributor licensed by the State Fire Marshal and the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
“Weather will be the determining factor in allowing for the Kiwanis fireworks show; a decision will be made by June 30 by LAFD officials. An alternative date may be chosen to have the show if the scheduled show is postponed,” Fire Marshal Jeff Wetteland said.
He said the current Stage III restrictions and the proposed fireworks restrictions are to provide for the safety of Los Alamos County residents and visitors.
“We are doing our best to allow people to enjoy their summer but due to extreme drought conditions we have to be as cautious as possible until we get a significant amount of rain,” Wetteland said. “With fuel moisture levels as low as they are it will take a significant amount of rainfall and cloud cover to move us out of these restrictions.”
The proclamation which was unanimously approved states that the weather in North Central New Mexico including Los Alamos County has been extremely dry resulting in severe drought conditions in the County and that the National Weather Service drought indices indicate that drought conditions are likely to deteriorate for the next 30 days. It states that heavy fuel loading, low humidity, heat and wind forecasts in the County increase the danger of wildland, brush, grass and forest fires to extremely high and that these fires would threaten homes and structures, putting the health and safety of the community at risk.
Under the New Mexico Fireworks Licensing and Safety Act, the Council is authorized to ban or limit the use and sale of certain fireworks under the above conditions. If need is determined, LAFD can apply for additional 30-day periods of restrictions.