Silver City, NM- -Springtime winds in New Mexico can only mean one thing, dry conditions and high fire danger. The Gila National Forest began the Red Flag Awareness Program this week with the recent windy weather. Each Forest Service office and administrative site will fly a red flag on the days the National Weather Service issues a Red Flag Wind Warning.
“The intent of these flags is to increase visitors awareness of days when wind speeds and dry conditions could quickly turn a spark into a rapidly spreading wildfire if extra care is not taken,” says Ellen Brown, Fire Prevention Officer for the Gila National Forest. “Even a cigarette tossed from a car window, welding without clearing a safe area, and lawn mower blades that strike rocks can produce embers that move quickly through dry vegetation especially during windy conditions,” adds Brown. Seeing a Red Flag will remind us of the elevated risk these dry and windy days bring and serves as a motivation to take extra precautions.
Every year, public lands experience wildfires caused by human carelessness. Before setting out into the forest, become informed on weather and wind predictions and be prepared to wait for that campfire or picnic until the winds diminish. Do your part. Don’t let a wildfire start.