Smoke-shrouded skies in New Mexico from fire in Gila National Forest

About 22,000 acres are now burning. Smoke from the fires shrouds southwestern New Mexico. Fire crews are standing by, waiting for the winds to die down.

Fires have been burning in the Gila National Forest in New Mexico since May 16, 2012. Residents in southwestern New Mexico could see smoke from the fires billowing in their sky yesterday (May 23).

Map of New Mexico, with Gila National Forest in green, via Rocky Mountain Maps

As of yesterday, two fires in the national forest have merged and are now at more than 22,000 acres. A public information officer with the Gila National Forest told the Silver City Sun News yesterday that both air support and fire crews are standing by, waiting for the winds to die down so they can begin to attack the growing blaze.

The photo on this page comes from our friend Jacqueline McNeese in New Mexico. She wrote on EarthSky’s Facebook page yesterday:

[The fire] is located about 75 miles northwest of where I live. I could see white smoke around 1:30 p.m., and by around 6 p.m. (when I took this photo), it just took over almost the whole sky. This is looking in the direction of the fire. You can see the smoke coming up in the lower left corner of the photo, where the point of origin is.

Fires in Gila National Forest are affecting the skies in all of southwestern New Mexico. This photo is from EarthSky Facebook friend Jacqueline McNeese on May 23, 2012. She said these are the true colors she saw in the clouds of smoke. Note the whiter smoke from the source of the fire, in the lower left of this photo.

Click here to expand image above

A precautionary evacuation has been issued for the summer community of Willow Creek, New Mexico. Lightning started at least one of the fires, according to news reports from May 23.

Yesterday’s Silver City Sun News had an excellent story on the New Mexico fires, if you want to learn more.

Bottom line: Two fires in the Gila National Forest in New Mexico merged yesterday (May 23, 2012). There are now about 22,000 acres burning. Smoke from the fires is affecting all of southwestern New Mexico, according to news reports. Air support and fire crews are standing by, waiting for the winds to die down.

Deborah Byrd

MORE ARTICLES