Wildfire Update: Whitewater Baldy Complex Fire

May 26th, 2012 at 9:31 am by under Wildfires

The Whitewater Baldy Complex Fire continues to burn out of control after charring more than 82,000 acres.

Late Friday the fire-management team released this account of the day’s activities and the additional closures of forest lands to public access:

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New Mexico Type II Interagency Incident Management Team

WHITEWATER-BALDY COMPLEX FIRE UPDATE

Friday, May 25, 2012 – PM Update

The Whitewater-Baldy Complex had a significant increase in size and exhibited extreme fire behavior beginning around 4:00 p.m. this afternoon. Crews disengaged from lines due to extreme wind driven fire behavior with long range spotting and sustained crown runs.

The complex continues to burn in steep, rugged terrain consisting of mixed conifer and continues to be primarily wind and terrain driven.

The Whitewater Fire merged with the Baldy Fire on Wednesday, May 23, causing suppression and incident management forces to combine into Whitewater-Baldy Complex. The fire is currently burning on 3 Ranger Districts, the Glenwood, Reserve and Wilderness Ranger Districts along with an area of private land known as Willow Creek Subdivision.

Twelve cabins have been confirmed as lost in this subdivision along with 13 out-buildings. There were NO additional structures lost in the last 24 hours in the Willow Creek Subdivision.

Personnel from New Mexico State Forestry and U.S. Forest made all necessary contacts with effected landowners yesterday. Structural protection and damage assessment continue in Willow Creek and structure protection assessments were also initiated in the village of Mogollon.

Tony Sciacca’s Southwest Type 1 Fire Management Team will assume command of the complex tomorrow morning at 6:00 a.m.

The Incident Command Post is now set up and located at the Reserve Fair Grounds.

The complex remains at 0% containment as firefighters are unable to directly suppress the fire due to extreme fire behavior and rough terrain. They were, however, able to directly and successfully attack a few spot fires out ahead of the fire on the north end until the crews disengaged as fire behavior increased in the afternoon.

Winds are predicted to continue to challenge fire fighters tomorrow as red flag warnings are still in effect as they continue their efforts. Smoke impacts spread as far to the north as Colorado this evening.

A voluntary-evacuation of the town of Mogollon continues to be in effect.

Approximately 586 personnel are currently assigned to the fire.

Closure order 06-302 is being implemented and includes the following closures:

Roads closed:

  • • Bursum Road (State Highway 159) is closed from Whitewater Mesa east

Area Closed:

  • All National Forest System lands (NFSL), roads, and trails within the proclaimed boundary of the Gila National Forest (see map below) contained within the Wilderness, Reserve, Black Range and Glenwood Ranger Districts of the Gila National Forest within the following areas:
  • • The entire western side of the Gila Wilderness bounded from the northwest corner of the Wilderness (near the end of the Catwalk National Recreation Trail) south and then east along the Wilderness boundary on the Glenwood and Wilderness Ranger Districts around the Wilderness boundary on the west side of FR 150, around the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument, private land and Visitors Center, to the East Fork of the Gila River, thence north along the East Fork to the eastern Gila Wilderness Boundary, thence following the Gila Wilderness boundary north and west back to the northwest corner of the Gila Wilderness near the Catwalk National Recreation Trail.
  • • On Glenwood, Black Range, and Reserve Ranger Districts all NFSL lands outside the Gila Wilderness bounded by Whitewater Creek northwest along the Powerhouse Trail #810 to the Powerhouse Road #722, thence west on Bursum Road (NM 159) to the section line between sections 31 and 32 (T 10 S, R 19 West) at approximately Slaughterhouse Spring, thence north along the section line 8.75 miles to Frying Pan Canyon (Trail #504), thence east on Frying Pan Canyon Trail #504 to Forest Road (FR) 4224 thence south on Forest Road 4224 to Forest Road 626 (Sign Camp/Devil’s Park Road), thence northeast along FR 626 to FR 141, thence east along FR141 to junction with FR 28, thence northeast along FR 28 to the junction with FR 30, thence east and south along FR 30 to the junction with FR 150, thence south on FR 150 to the junction with FR 686 (to Beaver Creek), thence west along FR 686 to the Gila Wilderness Boundary.

THE CATWALK NATIONAL RECREATION TRAIL, GILA CLIFf DWELLINGS NATIONAL MONUMENT, AND THE GILA VISITORS CENTER REMAIN OPEN TO PUBLIC VISITATION.

For more information visit the Gila National Forest website at http://fs.usda.gov/gila. You may also visit www.inciweb.org for maps and updates.

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Online from KRQE News 13: Fire coverage, official updates and preparedness resources in the KRQE.com Wildfires section.

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