Wildfire Continues To Destroy Gila Wilderness
The Whitewater-Baldy Complex fire as seen from Spurgeon Mesa looking toward Bearwallow in the Gila Wilderness of New Mexico.
By Elaine Baumgartel
May 29, 2012

Whitewater-Baldy Complex Fire

View additional photos from the U.S. Forest Service.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- A wildfire raging out of control in southwestern New Mexico grew by 30 square miles overnight Monday. The massive blaze is on track to become the largest in the state's history.

Whipped by strong winds, the Whitewater-Baldy Complex fire is expected to break the record set by last year's devastating Las Conchas wildfire that scorched 244 square miles.  It's burned at least a dozen summer cabins and is a long way from containment. 

Fire Information Officer Jerry Perry says low humidity and prolonged drought are complicating the firefighting effort, and officials have had little time to assess the damage. 

"The growth of the fire seems to be pretty much in all directions currently, there are communities, ranches and homes on the Western perimeter," Perry said.

More than 1,100 firefighters are battling the lightning-sparked blaze as it burns in rugged terrain in the Gila Wilderness near the New Mexico/Arizona border.