Giant New Mexico Fire Could Be First of Many

And it's just getting bigger
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Jun 1, 2012 8:18 AM CDT
Smoke from the Whitewater-Baldy fire rolls over ridges in the Gila Wilderness near Reserve, N.M., on Thursday, May 31, 2012.   (AP Photo/Susan Montoya Bryan)
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(Newser) – New Mexico's biggest-ever wildfire may herald an onslaught of giant blazes in the western US, experts say. "We've been in a long drought cycle for the last 20 years, and conditions now are great for these type of fires," says an Arizona science professor. "Everything is in line," thanks in part to climate change and shifting land use. Indeed, future fires are poised to get "so big" that states won't be able to handle them themselves; they'll need "outside resources," says an analyst.

The Whitewater-Baldy fire has now burned 190,000 acres, and it may continue for weeks, the AP reports. The rugged terrain it's traversing is "impossible" for firefighters to tackle, says the state's governor, Susana Martinez. The flames may not die down until they're hit with monsoon-season rains this summer—but "we're transitioning from La Nina to El Nino, so we have no guidance to what's going to happen" rain-wise, says a meteorologist. Meanwhile, the fire is spreading in every direction. (Read more New Mexico stories.)

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