Peralta nixes all burning across town

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Hoping to prevent a catastrophic fire in the town of Peralta, the council adopted a drought resolution during an emergency meeting Tuesday.

The ban prohibits all outdoor burning, including campfires, open fires, agricultural burns, trash barrel burns and all other smoke-producing substance and material that creates a fire safety hazard.

Last Wednesday, the council heard from Peralta Fire Chief John Dear, who said in order to ban certain types of fireworks, the resolution has to be approved before June 14.

"As it is right now, State Forestry has issued a state-wide burn ban, not including municipalities and tribal lands," Dear said. "Valencia County Fire Chief (Steven) Gonzales notified us the commission has banned burning in Valencia County."

The fire chief also said the neighboring village of Bosque Farms also has adopted a burn ban.

"Two years ago … we adopted the drought restriction resolution," Dear said. "At that time, we had extreme drought conditions. As of the 13th of this month, the Valencia County area was in the exceptional drought condition, the highest level."

With no sign of a significant amount of precipitation in the near future, Dear said the council can extend the resolution for another 30 days if needed.

"Some people say we shouldn't do this, that there isn't a need," the fire chief said. "But if we don't take some action, we'll run out of time. We need to err on the side of caution."

Gonzales informed the council about the burn ban in the unincorporated areas of the county, and said he recommends the council act quickly.

"If a huge incident were to happen, the town of Peralta would be responsible to pay for the resources," Gonzales said.

Peralta resident Dick Wayne told the council he's concerned about the public safety of the drought conditions. He said the situation is extreme for the entire area.

"The resolution is geared toward fireworks, but any open burning can easily get away from people," Wayne said. "There are lots of areas in Peralta that are ready to go up. We need to consider doing this as quickly as possible."

Rob Barr, the county's wildland coordinator, said Valencia County is "due for a bad bosque fire." He said while there have been a couple of small bosque fires since the big Belen Fire in 2007, he's worried about this year's conditions.

"We have a wildfire protection plan, and a lot of areas identified," Barr said. "We are also constantly working on suppression training, working with property owners and state forestry to increase our ability to suppress wildfires. But property owners have to take some personal responsibility. We want to keep it in the bosque — we don't want people to get hurt and lose livestock."

Councilor Joseph Romero said he, along with many other people in Peralta, have a lot of old, dry weeds. He asked fire officials that once the burn ban is in place, what they recommended for disposing of weeds.

Gonzales said he's talking with the folks at the Conejo Transfer Station about allowing the disposal of yard waste.


-- Email the author at cgarcia@news-bulletin.com.