Wildfire Update: More trouble for Arizona and New Mexico
More Trouble for Arizona and now for New Mexico as the wildfire spreads. What is believed to have started at a campground in Arizona, has now created closures at state parks, forcing many travelers to cancel plans and route elsewhere.
A massive wildfire heading from eastern Arizona toward New Mexico has closed national forests and parks, forced evacuations of mountain resort communities, and prompted air quality alerts in New Mexico, where smoke blanketed Santa Fe and disrupted flights into Albuquerque earlier this week.
The Wallow blaze, which officials think was sparked by an unattended campground fire on May 29, now covers more than 600 square miles and is the second largest in Arizona history.
At noon today, the popular Coronado National Forest is closing its nearly 2 million acres – including all roads, visitor centers, campgrounds, trails and picnic areas – in southeastern Arizona and parts of New Mexico. The Catalina or Mt. Lemmon Highway, which leads to the peak north of Tucson, will be open during daylight hours only. Saguaro National Park will close trails and land in its Rincon Mountain District on the eastern side of the park today, though the Rincon Mountain District Visitor Center will remain open.
All hiking trails and campsites in the Apache portion of the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest have been closed, reports the Arizona Republic, and the Sunrise Park Resort, normally bustling at this time of year with visitors fishing, horseback riding and mountain biking, is abandoned. Fire officials expressed growing concerns that the Wallow fire would engulf the scenic White Mountains resort town of Greer.
In New Mexico, the encroaching blaze disrupted some flights and a large plume of smoke prompted air quality alerts, and the state tourism office website lists hotel discounts for “smoke inhalation victims” and those with respiratory problems.
Source: USA Today