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Fire prevention tips

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Preventing human-caused wildfires is a shared responsibility for all New Mexicans and visitors to our state. The following are some simple tips to remember when living, working, or recreating in fire-prone areas across New Mexico.

Know Before You Go

To reduce the risk of human-caused fires, many state and federal agencies will issue fire restrictions at varying levels during times of high fire danger. Some areas may be closed entirely until the risk of wildfire decreases significantly. Before planning a trip to a National Forest, National Park, or other public lands, check with the managing agency, local fire department, or local government for possible fire restrictions. The New Mexico Fire Information website is also an excellent resource.


Restrictions vary; in most areas, all wood and charcoal fires are prohibited, but gas or propane camp stoves are allowed. Other areas allow campfires only in established campgrounds with fire grills or pits. A few areas have banned all ignition sources, including camp stoves. If you do build a legal campfire, never leave it unattended; be sure it is dead out and cold to the touch before you go.

Hot Ashes/Coals

Ashes from fireplaces, wood stoves, and fire pits can remain hot for several hours and even days. The following is recommended for proper disposal of hot coals or ashes:

  • If possible, allow ashes to cool completely in your fireplace or wood stove for 2-3 days before removing them.
  • Use a shovel to place ashes or coals in a metal container, slowly soak the ashes with water and cover tightly with a metal lid.
  • Keep the metal container outside of your home and away from any combustible materials.
  • NEVER place other combustible materials in the metal container.
  • DO NOT put coals or ashes in paper or plastic bags, cardboard boxes, plastic garbage cans, or other combustible containers.
  • ALWAYS use water and a shovel to churn and stir outdoor fire pits or campfires until they are cold to the touch.


Parking in tall grass or shrubs can start fires because the hot catalytic converter comes into contact with dry plant materials. Dry, windy conditions can turn smoldering grass into a wall of flames. Don’t park where vegetation is touching the underside of your vehicle. Motorcycles and ATVs should have spark arresters.


Smoldering cigarettes can start fires hours after being dropped or thrown away. Never toss cigarettes out of cars. Be aware of smoking restrictions in Forests, National Parks, BLM, and other public lands. Smoking may be restricted to inside vehicles or in paved parking areas.

Chainsaws and other equipment

Sparks from chainsaws, welding torches, and other equipment can cause wildfires. Use spark arresters. Refrain from welding and all use of spark-creating machines when the fire danger is high. Follow forest restrictions and closures; chainsaws may not be allowed if the fire danger is extreme.


Fireworks are not allowed anywhere on National and State Forests, National Parks, and other public lands. Many local governments may also prohibit fireworks until the fire danger decreases.

More about the difference between a beneficial fire and wildfire ~ Smokey Bear Home Page