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City urges caution for Fourth of July celebrations

Heather Ward, her 3-year-old son, Christian, and husband, Thomas, shop at a TNT Fireworks stand near Wyoming and Northeastern NE on Tuesday. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Albuquerque Journal)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Less than a week since the five-acre Foothills Fire in the Sandias, Mayor Tim Keller and other city officials are reminding residents to stay safe during the Fourth of July long weekend.

“We have an extremely high fire danger in the bosque, and last week we had a big fire in the foothills,” Keller told a news conference Wednesday. “We’re asking folks to please use extreme caution this Fourth of July weekend and throughout this summer.”

Keller also called on citizens to be mindful of neighbors who have post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.

In addition to being mindful about fireworks, Keller stressed the importance of limiting social gatherings and adhering to social distancing guidelines set by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.

“Now is not the time to have a social Fourth of July gathering,” Keller said. “Just keep it with your family.”

The city recently has issued 78 cease-and-desist orders to people using illegal fireworks.

Anyone caught lighting illegal fireworks could face a $500 fine and 90 days in jail.

The city recommends that people report illegal fireworks by calling 311 or going online to cabq.gov/fireworks.

All fireworks contain a “warning” or “caution” label.

“If it says ‘caution’ on them, you can use them. If it says ‘warning’ on it, you cannot,” Albuquerque Fire Rescue spokesman Lt. Tom Ruiz said.

AFR Chief Paul Dow said the department will increase patrols near high-risk areas this weekend.

“On Fourth of July Albuquerque Fire Rescue averages 50 outside fires, two structure fires, a few vehicle fires and at least one bosque fire,” Dow said. “That’s in addition to the 300-plus (emergency medical service) calls. … It is, by far, the busiest day of the year for us.”

Dow said fireworks should not be used in city parks. He said people should light them on pavement and keep a bucket of water nearby.

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