Baldy and Whitewater, NM Fires Now Combined
Smoke from two large fires raging in parts of New Mexico's Gila National Forest have come together in one large plume blowing from western New Mexico into north Texas. NASA's Aqua satellite captured this image of smoke and the heat signatures from the Baldy and Whitewater fires on March 23, 2012 at 2040 UTC (4:40 p.m. EDT). The Whitewater Fire burning in the Gila Wilderness has now merged with the Baldy Fire also burning in the Gila Wilderness. It will now be called the Whitewater-Baldy Complex.
The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument that flies onboard NASA's Aqua satellite captured an image of the thick blanket of smoke from both fires March 23, 2012 at 2040 UTC (4:40 p.m. EDT). The heat from the fires is outlined in red, and the smoke from the fires appears light brown, blowing to the east, as a result of westerly winds. The fire began on May 9 from a lightning strike.
Another Red Flag warning day is expected today (May 24) in the region, and will make firefighting efforts more challenging. According to Inciweb, the U.S. multi-agency Incident Fire Response website, "yesterday's (May 23) wind event pushed the Baldy Fire north and northeast to Cub Mountain and towards Jackass Park. The fire is burning at times through heavily timbered areas causing smoke to become more concentrated."
Visitors to the Gila National Forest should plan on taking another route or call the Wilderness Ranger District office at 575-536-2250 or the Whitewater Fire Information at 575-533-6901 for more information as certain trails may be closed. The smoke is not just an issue for the Gila National Forest, as it blows across New Mexico into Texas. The National Weather Service noted on May 24, "SMOKE FROM WILDFIRES IN THE GILA REGION TO MOVE NORTH AND EAST ACROSS NEW MEXICO THROUGH SATURDAY" and has posted advisories for much of New Mexico. For advisory visit: http://tinyurl.com/cgyo5p3
Image: NASA Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team. Text: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Rob Gutro