A wildfire near New Mexico’s Gila Wilderness, has now grown to 85,000 acres (more than 130 square mile) and caused weekend air-quality warnings as far as Albuquerque And Santa Fe.
The Huffington Post reports that over 500 firefighters are battling the blaze, which is the result of two lightning-sparked fires merging earlier this week. Fire officials are reporting that the fire’s growth is due to relentless winds in recent days.
The Whitewater-Baldy Complex Fire’s acreage was not updated on Saturday, but Fire Information Officer Dan Ware stated, according to Reuters, that:
“We know that there was significant growth yesterday but we don’t have a hard and fast number.”
Ware went on to state:
“This is the biggest show in the country right now in terms of fire size. So a lot of resources are available to us. We’re just not sure we’ll be able to do a lot of flying.”
The Huffington Post reports that the wildfire has already destroyed 12 cabins and seven small outbuildings, and is now threatening the privately owned ghost town of Mogollon, which was placed under a voluntary evacuation order. Strong winds in the area have blown ash almost 35 to 40 miles away, and smoke has spread across the state.
Reuters reports that the fire’s outlook is not promising for Saturday either. Ware stated Saturday that:
“Fire activity was so extreme yesterday we had to pull crews out. We’re expecting another day like that today. With such high wind levels and low humidity there’s going to be big potential for some major growth.”
The Whitewater-Baldy Complex Fire is currently 0% contained, but fire officials hope to start battling it on Sunday. The fire’s location in rugged terrain, as well as rampant winds, have so far prevented firefighters from attempting to contain it.