Bluff Cemetery fire is doused quickly, but damages landscaping

A fire on Bluff Cemetery hill gave some neighboring homeowners a scare.

On October 1, while cleaning up the pioneer portion of the Bluff Cemetery, volunteers from the Hole in the Rock organization used a propane torch to clear away tumbleweeds. From there the fire spread, eating up a few neighboring acres.

The Bluff Volunteer Fire Department was able to put out the flames with the landowners and volunteers from the fort helping out.

The fire did not harm any structures but did damage some neighbors’ landscaping and some irrigation systems.

Lynn Stevens of the Hole in the Rock Foundation said the organization is working to make things right.

“The fire was started without a permit,” said Stevens. “We are extremely sorry it happened and have apologized to the landowners and the town council. It was a mistake and violation of the fire ban.”

The foundation has assured landowners and the town they will make the landowners whole by either replacing or compensating for the damaged pipes and plants.

At the October 6 meeting of the Bluff Town Council, members expressed support of the plans to make the landowners whole.

The council also emphasized the importance of following the state fire ban and how the incident outlines the importance of the Bluff Town Council taking over a publicly-managed portion of the Bluff Cemetery from the county.

At the meeting the town council also made plans for October 24 to be a goat head cleanup day. The council is asking business owners and citizens to participate in the town-wide cleanup of weeds.

The council approved the hiring of Erin Richards as note taker for the Planning and Zoning council. Richards was the only applicant for the contract job, which pays $20 an hour with the council planning to revisit the rate in 60 days.

The council also received an update from the Businesses of Bluff (BOB). The organization reported they received signs reminding patrons of the town mask mandate, although they are still waiting on two banner signs and window clings.

The BOB also reported that the Bluff Balloon Festival will be held over Martin Luther King weekend in January.

The festival will continue with some major modifications, including no sponsors and only two event days – Saturday flying in Bluff and Sunday in the Valley of the Gods.

The organization doesn’t want to lose their established date among hot air ballooners, so they plan to hold the event with low impacts.

San Juan Record

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