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Governor urges local fireworks restrictions

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SANTA FE (AP) — New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez urged local governments on Tuesday to restrict fireworks because of dry conditions and the risk of wildfires.

Martinez asked mayors and county commissioners in a letter Tuesday to take quick action this week because of a looming deadline in state law for limiting fireworks.

The governor pointed to recent wildfires, including one north of the community of Pecos and another in the Jemez Mountains of northern New Mexico. Both of those fires, however, were caused by downed power lines.

“The devastation has been significant, and I am very concerned about the danger that fireworks usage could pose to our communities during the upcoming 4th of July holiday,” Martinez wrote.

Under state law, local governments must approve drought-based fireworks restrictions at least 20 days before a holiday, such as the Fourth of July.

Cities and counties can ban the sale and use of only certain fireworks — firecrackers and aerial fireworks, such as roman candles, rockets and helicopters.

During severe or extreme drought conditions, local governments can restrict the use of — but not ban — other fireworks such as cones, fountains and sparklers. Those can be limited to paved areas or to places with a readily accessible source of water.

“As state leaders, we must do everything within our power to keep New Mexicans, and their families and homes, safe,” Martinez said.

Fireworks vendors can open for business June 20 for the Independence Day holiday and state law allows retail sales until July 6.

The state Forestry Division imposed fire-related restrictions last month on lands outside of municipalities — excluding federal and tribal property.

The use of fireworks, campfires and open burning is prohibited, including on private lands outside of a municipality. Smoking is allowed only in buildings, on paved surfaces or in vehicles with ashtrays.

Martinez said she will renew a request to the Legislature next year to expand the powers of state and local governments to restrict fireworks when conditions pose an extreme fire risk.

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