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Published June 20, 2011
Southwest Fire Summary(updated 6/15/11)
Data Source(s): Southwest Coordination Center
Wildfires have been raging across the Southwest in recent months. As of June 14, more than 1,400 wildfires had burned about 1.4 million acres in Arizona and New Mexico, according to Predictive Services at the Southwest Coordination Center (Figure 8a). A lethal combination of extreme and exceptional drought conditions; warm temperatures; dry grasses, shrubs, and trees; and continuous gusty winds have created a record fire season in the region. The year 2011 will enter the books as the most severe wildfire year since 1990, when statistical record keeping began.
In Arizona this year, more than 750,000 acres have burned—more than four times the state’s annual average of approximately 182,000 acres. Most of the damage, however, has occurred during the last 30 days when fire has blackened more than 680,000 acres in the southern and eastern portions of the state (Figure 8b). The Wallow Fire, which began on May 29 in the White Mountains, recently surpassed the 2002 Rodeo-Chediski Fire as the largest on record in the state. The Rodeo-Chediski blaze burned almost 470,000 acres. As of June 17, the Wallow Fire had consumed more than 495,000 acres spanning five counties: Apache, Navajo, Graham, and Greenlee in Arizona, and Catron County in New Mexico. Thirty-two homes had been destroyed and another 2,700 were threatened as of June 17.
In New Mexico, more than 630,000 acres had burned as of June 14. The locations of the fires span the state but are concentrated in the southeastern corner (Figure 8c). The largest active fire is the Loop Fire near Carlsbad, which began on June 13 and has torched more than 30,000 acres.Notes:
The fires discussed here have been reported by federal, state, or tribal agencies during 2011. 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 and prescribed burns 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
- Dan Ferguson, CLIMAS Program Director
- Gregg Garfin, Founding Editor, Institute of the Environment
- Zack Guido, CLIMAS Associate Staff Scientist
- Gigi Owen, CLIMAS Assistant Staff Scientist
- Nancy J. Selover, Arizona State Climatologist
- Jessica Swetish, CLIMAS Publications Assistant
Please direct your Southwest Climate Outlook comments and suggestions to Zack Guido.
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