SILVER CITY, N.M. - A massive wildfire in western New Mexico hasn't just broken the record for the largest blaze in state history - it's shattered it.
An infrared reading has measured the Whitewater-Baldy Complex fire at 170,272 acres, leaving last year's 156,593-acre Las Conchas far behind. That acreage roughly translates to 269 square miles, more than half the size of Los Angeles.
"The fire seems to be growing in all directions," said a fire information officer Gerry Perry. "It's certainly been a complicated fire."
Two fires, both ignited by lightning, have melding to one giant uncontrolled blaze at 0 percent containment, Perry said. The low humidity and high wind, combined with the Gila National Forest's rugged terrain, have made fighting the fire particularly challenging.
The wind carries burning embers to remote areas, and the embers then start spot fires. Those fires join the larger fire and add to its growth.
More than 1,200 firefighters are working to keep the northern and western edges under control by burning the forest's undergrowth and robbing the fire of potential fuel.
)2012 the Los Angeles Times
Visit the Los Angeles Times at www.latimes.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services