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Published July 25, 2012
Southwest Fire Summary(data through 7/19/12)
Data Source(s): Southwest Coordination Center
Monsoon precipitation helped dampen fire activity across most of Arizona and New Mexico during the last month, as expected. In Arizona, about 139,000 acres burned between January 1 and July 14 (Figure 8a). Between June 20 and July 19, 14 wildland fires started; eight remained active as of July 19 (Figure 8b). These fires nearly doubled the total acres burned since January 1. Lightning strikes caused several of these fires, including the Grapevine fire, which torched about 19,000 acres in the Coronado National Forest near Safford. Lightning also set off the Trap Peak fire, the Pinnacle fire, and the Cottonwood fire, all of which had burned less than 2,000 acres as of July 14.
In New Mexico, only four fires have ignited since June 21. All of these have been completely contained and were relatively small, burning a combined total of approximately 7,800 acres. Between January 1 and July 14, more than 367,000 acres have burned in the state, with the vast majority—approximately 298,000 acres—consumed in the Whitewater-Baldy Complex fire in the Gila National Forest near Glenwood. As of July 19 it was the only active fire (Figure 8c).
Other parts of the western U.S. have not experienced the fire-quelling benefits of monsoon moisture. In Colorado, severe drought and high temperatures continue to contribute to high fire risk and activity. Several Colorado fires made national news, including the Waldo Canyon fire, which began on June 23 and burned more than 18,000 acres in Pike National Forest near Colorado Springs. That fire killed two people, destroyed almost 350 houses, and sparked the evacuation of more than 32,000 residents. The High Park fire, which began June 9 near Fort Collins, was also devastating, charring more than 87,200 acres and 260 homes.
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 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 Dubois, New Mexico State Climatologist
Please direct your Southwest Climate Outlook comments and suggestions to Zack Guido.
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