Forest official cites rising risk of human-caused wildfires


TAOS, N.M. (AP) — The top administrator of a national forest in northern New Mexico says there’s an elevated risk of human-caused wildfires due to drying conditions and negligence by some forest visitors.

Carson National Forest Supervisor James Duran said there’s a high fire danger in the 2,340-square-mile (6,070-square-kilometer) forest headquartered in Taos as it is visited by many people weary of staying at home during the coronavirus outbreak.

A statement issued Friday by Duran said that has fire managers concerned about an early start to this year’s fire season.

Duran says patrols last weekend reported crowding in day-use sites and disbursed camping sites in violation of state public health orders on mass gatherings and social distancing.

He noted that the forest remains open but that its developed campgrounds are closed and that campfires and use of charcoal grills are prohibited.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.

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