Dry, windy weather raises fire concerns

CNJ staff photo: Tony Bullocks The Clovis Fire Department sent two fire trucks and two tankers Monday morning to extinguish a fire in animal pens at a residence on south Prince Street. High wind was a concern, but firefighters were able to keep the fire contained, Chief Ray Westerman said.

Sharna Johnson

A dry winter and high winds can make for stressful days on the High Plains, especially for those in the fire business.

Clovis Fire Chief Ray Westerman said his personnel were busy Monday with multiple calls in a short period of time.

Around 11 a.m., firefighters responded to south Prince Street, spending about three hours extinguishing a fire in some animal pens that threatened to spread in the high wind, Westerman said.

Simultaneously, he said firefighters were sent to a small grass fire in west Clovis, near Chama Street and Grand Avenue, and assisted the Pleasant Hill fire department at the location of a rekindled fire from Sunday northeast of Clovis.

The fires were in addition to ambulance calls, Westerman said, explaining, “We had several things going on at one time.”

Fire in a dry environment is worrisome enough, but Westerman said, “Anytime you get winds at 30 miles per hour or more, it raises another level of concern.”

Winds in Clovis were charted between 29 and 40 mph, with gusts peaking at 43 mph, said Meteorologist Maria Torres with the National Weather Service in Albuquerque.

“We have cold fronts going through right now, that’s what’s increasing the wind,” she said.

A few light snowflakes fell Monday afternoon, in line with a forecast for a 10 percent chance of light rain mixed with snow, but that was all the moisture weather experts were seeing in the near future.

Forecasts for the rest of the week are expected to be “pretty sunny for you guys,” and calm and dry, Torres said, with temperatures in the 50s and 60s.

That forecast is in keeping with the area’s weather trend this winter, with mild temperatures and dry days.

Between November and January, Clovis received .33 inches or rain, almost half the rainfall of .56 inches during the same period a year ago.

“It has been quite some time since we’ve received any measurable moisture and it has been dry for quite some time,” Westerman said.

Jan. 13, Curry County adopted a resolution restricting fires in dry conditions and said it plans to enact an ordinance allowing for fines and penalties against those who violate burn bans.