Today's Coming Crisis Movie

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Over 1,200 firefighters battle record New Mexico blaze

A wall of smoke advances across a vast swath of rugged country in southwestern New Mexico where the nation's wilderness movement was born nearly a century ago.

From the air, the smoke stretches as far as the eye can see. On the ground, firefighters talk about the steep canyons that keep them from directly attacking what has become the largest wildfire in New Mexico's recorded history and the largest currently burning in the country.

Sure, things might look bad. But to land managers and scientists, the record-setting blaze represents a true test of decades of work aimed at returning fire to its natural role on the landscape - a test that comes as many Western states grapple with overgrown forests, worsening drought and a growing prospect for more megafires.
The Whitewater-Baldy fire has destroyed a dozen cabins while marching across more than 354 square miles of the Gila National Forest. A pair of lightning-sparked fires grew together to form the massive blaze.

Unlike last year's megafires in New Mexico and Arizona, this blaze is burning in territory that has been frequently blackened under the watchful eye of the Gila's fire managers. Read More