Posted on June 13, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Nighttime burnout operations at the massive Whitewater-Baldy Fire complex in New Mexico.
Wildfire season totals still below average to date, at 995,000 acres
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — While media attention and firefighting resources have been focused on the High Park Fire, burning near the densely populated Colorado Front Range, the wildfire season is heating up elsewhere around the country.
The Little Bear Fire in New Mexico, burning on the Lincoln National Forest in New Mexico, is among the most destructive, having destroyed 224 homes and cabins.
The National Interagency Fire Center reported four new large fires Tuesday (June 12) for a total of 19 large fires burning around the country. To-date, the acreage affected by wildfires still remains about 50 percent below the 10-year average, with the NIFC reported a total of 995,000 acres burned so far this year. The average for the year to-date is 1.5 million acres. (more…)
Filed under: climate and weather, Environment, forest fires | Tagged: Arizona wildfires, Colorado wildfires, High Park Fire, Little Bear Fire, New Mexico wildfires, western wildfires, Whitewater Baldy fire, Wildfires | 1 Comment »
Posted on June 4, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
New Mexico’s largest-ever wildfire reported as 18 percent contained
The Whitewater-Baldy Fire Sunday, June 2, 2012.
An aerial view of partially burned areas in the Whitewater-Baldy fire footprint. PHOTO COURTESY INCIWEB/KARI GREER. Click on the image to visit the Inciweb gallery for the fire.
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Firefighters Sunday estimated they have achieved 18 percent containment of the Whitewater-Baldy Fire, but not before the blaze scorched its way across almost a quarter million acres of mountains, mesas and canyons in southern New Mexico in the state’s biggest-ever wildfire.
According an update from IncicWeb Sunday evening, the fire’s footprint is now at 241,000 acres and still growing in places, with isolated sustained torching and upslope runs Sunday producing up to 200-foot flame lengths.
The fire slowed as it encountered areas burned in previous wildfires, but firefighters said there is still a high potential for additional growth. (more…)
Filed under: climate and weather, Drought, Environment, forest fires, forests | Tagged: GILA NATIONAL FOREST, Mogollon evacuation ends, New Mexico wildfire, Whitewater Baldy fire | Leave a Comment »
Posted on May 30, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Southwest may see more megafires, experts warn
The Whitewater-Baldy Fire continues to burn nearly unchecked in southern New Mexico.
Firefighters inspect a burned stand of trees in the Whitewater-Baldy fire complex in New Mexico. PHOTO COURTESY STEVEN MEISTER/INCIWEB.
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — The Whitewater-Baldy fire complex in New Mexico is still growing along 95 percent of its perimeter and has become the largest wildfire on record in the state during the modern era — and it may grow bigger yet, according to wildfire experts who caution that the Southwest could be facing an era of megafires due to decades of fire suppression.
Fires burning to half a million acres in the dry and crowded forests of the region could become the norm, with geography being the only limiting factor, according to Wally Covington, a forest ecology expert at Northern Arizona University.
So far, the Whitewater-Baldy fire has burned in a footprint of more than 172,000 acres, though it’s important to remember that not every square mile in that area burned severely. In some places, entire stands of trees were destroyed, in other areas, the fire may have crept along the ground, consuming dry grasses, branches and pine needles. (more…)
Filed under: climate and weather, Environment, forest fires, forests, La Niña | Tagged: GILA NATIONAL FOREST, Las Conchas fire, Mogollon, New Mexico wildfire, Southwest megafires, Wallow Fire, Whitewater Baldy fire | Leave a Comment »
Posted on May 27, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Blaze slows in areas where earlier prescribed fires reduced fuels
Whitewater-Baldy fire complex perimeter on May 27.
The Whitewater Fire burns in the Gila National Forest May 22 before merging with the Baldy Fire. PHOTO COURTESY INCIWEB. Click for more photos.
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Firefighters in New Mexico faced extreme fire conditions Saturday, with tongues of flame soaring 200 feet at times as the Whitewater-Baldy fire grew by more than 40,000 acres in 24 hours, from 80,000 acres to a footprint of more than 122,000 acres.
Fire experts said the blaze is slowing were previous prescribed fires reduced some of the available fuels.
Saturday afternoon the Gila National Forest closed the Catwalk National Recreation Trail until further notice. Please visit the Gila National Forest Website at www.fs.usda.gov/gila for more details. Smoke advisories are in effect, with more info online here. (more…)
Filed under: climate and weather, Drought, Environment, forest fires | Tagged: Mogollon Fire, New Mexico fire, New Mexico wildfires, Whitewater Baldy fire, Whitewater Baldy fire map | Leave a Comment »
Posted on May 26, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Firefighters disengage from fire lines as wind fuels long-distance spotting and crown runs
The 82,000-acre Whitewater-Baldy fire continues to spread in the Gila National Forest.
The Whitewater-Baldy fire burns in steep terrain on the Gila National Forest. PHOTO COURTESY INCIWEB. Click for more photos.
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — The lightning-caused Whitewater-Baldy wildfire in New Mexico has grown to 82,000 acres and has destroyed at least 12 cabins in the rugged terrain of the Gila National Forest, northwest of Silver City.
Firefighters continue to focus on structure protection the Willow Creek subdivision and assessing fire threats in the town Mogollon while the wind- and terrain-driven fire continues to spread, albeit more slowly than earlier in the week. A voluntary evacuation of Mogollon remains in effect.
Firefighters retreated from some of their fire lines Friday as high winds fueled long range spotting and sustained crown runs. More high winds are forecast for at least the first part of the weekend.
Smoke from the fire will probably continue to affect the region until the monsoon season arrives later in the summer, according Boulder-based National Weather Service forecasters.
About 500 firefighters are at the scene.
Nationally, eight large wildfires are burning, with most of the activity in Arizona. To-date, fires have burned across about 600,000 acres, about half the ten-year average. More fire statistics and info at the National Interagency Fire Center website.
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tagged: GILA NATIONAL FOREST, New Mexico wildfires, Whitewater Baldy fire, Whitewater Baldy fire map, Whitewater Baldy fire photos | Leave a Comment »