Evacuations Continue in New Mexico, Colorado Wildfires
Four large wildfires, two in New Mexico and two in Colorado, are turning what was a below average fire season into something much hotter. NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center reports that the number of wildfires from March through May was the lowest on record. The number of acres burned through May was just 29 percent of last year’s record total of 3.2 million acres. The wildfires in New Mexico and Colorado will add to the 2012 totals significantly.
In New Mexico, the Whitewater Baldy Complex incident and the Little Bear incident are creating the most problems.
The Whitewater Baldy complex of fires has burned 278,039 acres and is just 37 percent contained. 644 firefighters are currently working this record setting fire in and around the Gila National Forest. Twenty structures are believed to have been lost to this fire. Air quality east of the fire is moderate. The fire is limited to the northeast and southeast by areas burned by wildfires in recent years.
The Little Bear fire is burning east of the Whitewater fire. 35 structures have burned. Many local subdivisions have been evacuated. There is no containment on the fire at this time. It has burned 26,904 acres and 429 firefighters have been deployed. Air quality in the area is nearing the unhealthy range due to the smoke from the fire. New Mexico governor Susana Martinez has deployed National Guard troops to the area to assist with evacuations and security.
In Colorado, the Little Sand fire and the High Park fire are burning. Drought conditions in the area range from severe to extreme.
The Little Sand fire has been burning for nearly a month in the rugged terrain of the San Juan National Forest. It has burned 8,238 acres and is thirty percent contained. 119 firefighters are assigned. Smoke from the fire has been a problem in the town of Pagosa Springs.
The High Park fire is the larger of the two Colorado fires. It has burned 36,930 acres and is not contained. 400 firefighters and a range of aerial assets have been fighting this blaze 15 miles west of Fort Collins, CO. Many evacuations have been ordered and the evacuation center is being moved due to heavy smoke conditions at the original site. At least eighteen structures have been burned.
Mike Ferris, a spokesman for the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) in Boise, ID, reports that discussions are being held about requesting the assistance of U.S. Northern Command firefighting assets. No orders have been sent for these aircraft at this time. NorthCom can deploy aerial fire suppression aircraft from the Air Force Reserve and the Air National Guard using the MAFFS system. The personnel involved have completed their annual training and were used extensively in the 2011 record wildfire season,
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This entry was posted on Monday, June 11th, 2012 at 12:52 pm and is filed under Firefighting, Original writing, Original writing, Reporting. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.