NEW MEXICO STATE FORESTRY News
Situation: Incident Command Post relocated to the Reserve Fairgrounds on Thursday. Phone numbers for fire information will be changing and an updated number will be posted as soon as possible. In the interim please call the Reserve Ranger District at (575) 533-6231 for fire information.
The Whitewater Fire (detected on Wednesday, May 16) has merged with the Baldy Fire (detected on Wednesday, May 9), and is now being called the Whitewater-Baldy Complex. The fire has now come out of the Gila Wilderness and on to the Gila National Forest in the Willow Creek Subdivision and crossed State Road 159 at Silver Creek Divide and working its way into Mineral Creek.
Fire behavior on Thursday was not as extreme as it was earlier this week, but still saw growth. An update on acreage figures will be release later today. Tony Sciacca’s Type I Incident Management Team has been mobilized and will take over command of the fire on Saturday.
The Whitewater-Baldy Complex is now 70,578 acres. It continues to burn in steep, rugged terrain of mixed conifer forest being driven by strong winds. The fire remains at 0% containment as firefighters are unable to directly suppress the fire due to extreme fire behavior and rough terrain. This extreme fire behavior has created large amounts of smoke which was visible in many communities in southeast New Mexico as well as some in eastern Arizona.
The fire did reach the Willow Creek Subdivision and is burning on both sides of the creek. Twelve homes and 13 outbuildings were confirmed destroyed. Many structures are still at risk due to extreme fire behavior and high fuel loading. Personnel from New Mexico State Forestry and U.S. Forest Service worked to make personal contact with landowners on Thursday. On Thursday, crews worked to prepare fire lines along the Mineral Creek drainage.
A Red Flag Warning is in effect for Today and Saturday, with conditions expected to improve on Sunday.
A voluntary-evacuation of the town of Mogollon is now in effect.
Approximately 506 personnel are currently assigned to the fire.
Please log onto http://fs.usda.gov/gila, www.nmfireinfo.com or www.inciweb.org for information on both fires.
Incident Name: Whitewater-Baldy Complex
Start Date & Time: May 16
Start Location: Gila Wilderness on the Gila National Forest
Cause of Fire: Lightning
Area Vegetation: Mixed conifer, Ponderosa pine, etc.
Acres Burned: 70,579
Ownership(s): USDA Forest Service/private
Structures Threatened: yes
Structures Burned: Twelve homes and seven small outbuildings
Evacuations (Y or N & #): Yes – 57 cabins in the Willow Creek area and voluntary evacuations for the village of Mogollon