New Mexico Fire Officials Expect Another Busy Year

New Mexico fire officials are preparing what could be another rough year.

Last year, more than 1,000 fires burned more than 967,000 acres in the state, according to a report obtained by The Associated Press.

Of fires on state and private land, more than 80 percent were caused by people.

New Mexico experienced its two largest wildfires in the state's recorded history in 2011 -- the 156,593-acre Las Conchas fire and the 101,562-acre Donaldson fire.

"It was one of the busiest years, if not the busiest year on record as far as acres burned. We've had years where more fires have burned, but just the sheer number of acres last year was over the top," State Forestry Division spokesman Dan Ware told the AP.

The number of executive orders signed by Gov. Susana Martinez to pay for equipment and out-of-state crews totaled more than $22 million, though it will be months before the true costs are tallied.

Forecasters with the National Weather Service in Albuquerque said 2012 is setting up to be much like last year, but the spring winds may not be as intense.

Fire officials plan to focus on a more targeted prevention message this year.

"We're really trying to get people to be mindful of their daily activities, just driving around or hanging out in the backyard," Ware said. "The little things, they can have an effect."

Loading