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Published August 22, 2012
Southwest Fire Summary(data through 8/16/12)
Data Source(s): Southwest Coordination Center
Numerous wildfires have erupted across both New Mexico and Arizona since the last update on July 19, but most of them have burned fewer than 100 acres. Monsoon moisture has helped firefighters squelch many of these fires relatively quickly. Between January 1 and August 8, more than 1,350 fires burned nearly 150,000 acres in Arizona and more than 800 fires charred roughly 370,000 acres in New Mexico (Figure 8a). Ten wildfires larger than 100 acres ignited between July 19 and August 14; eight of them were still active as of August 16 (Figures 8b and 8c).
Two of the largest wildfires burning in the region as of August 16 are located in the Tonto National Forest in Arizona. The Mistake Peak fire began on August 8 approximately 12 miles east of Tonto Basin. As of August 17, the fire had burned 4,800 acres and was 25 percent contained. Steep terrain made the fire moderately difficult to contain. The cause of the fire is under investigation. The other blaze, the Charley fire, was sparked by lightning near Sunflower, AZ, on August 12. Five days later, the fire had burned 2,300 acres, but was 80 percent contained. Three wildfires were active in New Mexico as of August 16 but none had burned more than 425 acres. High humidity, cooler temperatures, and rainfall have helped reduce fire growth and activity in the region.
Significant wildfire activity is keeping crews busy in other areas in the West, especially Nevada, California, and Idaho. The Holloway fire in northern Nevada, the result of an August 5 lightning strike, has burned more than 462,000 acres as of August 16—approximately 150,000 more acres than the Whitewater Baldy Complex fire, the largest wildfire in New Mexico’s history.Notes:
The fires discussed here have been reported by federal, state, or tribal agencies during 2012. The figures include information both for current fires and for fires that have been suppressed. The top figure shows a table of year-to-date fire information for Arizona and New Mexico. Prescribed burns are not included in these numbers. The bottom two figures indicate the approximate locations of past and present “large” wildland fires in Arizona and in New Mexico. A “large” fire is defined as a blaze covering 100 acres or more in timber or 300 acres or more in grass or brush. The name of each current fire is provided next to the symbol.
These data are obtained from the Southwest Coordination Center website::
Southwest Climate Outlook Staff
- Michael Crimmins, UA Extension Specialist
- Stephanie Doster, Institute of the Environment Editor
- Gregg Garfin, Founding Editor, Institute of the Environment
- Zack Guido, Managing Editor, CLIMAS Associate Staff Scientist
- Nancy J. Selover, Arizona State Climatologist
- Jessica Dollin, CLIMAS Publications Assistant
- Dave Dubious, New Mexico State Climatologist
Please direct your Southwest Climate Outlook comments and suggestions to Zack Guido.
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