A 1 a.m. flight to assess the extent of the Whitewater-Baldy fire in the Gila National Forest concluded that 18,260 additional acres burned in the previous 24 hours. At 170,272 acres, it is now the largest fire in recorded New Mexico history, surpassing last year’s Las Conchas at 156,293 acres.
It is also the largest fire currently burning in the country. At 266 square miles, the blaze is nearly 80 square miles bigger than the city of Albuquerque.
The fire is still zero percent contained and burning in all directions, officials said in their morning news release on InciWeb. More than 1,200 firefighters and 12 helicopters have been assigned to the blaze.
Fire information officer Jerry Perry said personnel face low humidity and shifting winds in their firefighting efforts today.
Due to wind patterns, parts of southern New Mexico could expect to see smoke today, Perry said.
To date, the fire has destroyed a dozen homes and injured five people.
Pick up a copy of tomorrow’s Journal for more on the blaze.
View the story from this morning’s Journal on the blaze and efforts to stop it. To stay updated on N.M. wildfires, visit our Wildfire Page.
View pictures of the blaze and smoke on InciWeb’s Flickr account.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.