Officials: Albuquerque had grueling two months of big fires

<p>ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. &mdash; The mayor and fire chief say Albuquerque firefighters had a grueling two months in December and January, responding to a big increase in what are characterized as serious fires.</p>
<p>Mayor Tim Keller and Fire Chief Dow didn’t give a cause for the spike in a Friday briefing that tallied 209 significant fires during the span, along with more than 14,000 other calls for medical, rescue and other services.</p>
<p>They said calls in February appear to be returning to a more normal level.</p>
<p>By comparison, Albuquerque Fire Rescue responded to an average of 64 significant fires each in October and November.</p>
<p>Keller says the department handled the jump in the number of calls, even during a pandemic, without missing a beat.</p>
<p>Fire Chief Paul Dow called every structure fire response unique, with dangers including erratic fire behavior and the threat of structural collapse always a possibility.</p>
<p>The department responded to 90,208 calls of all kinds in 2020, the officials said.</p>