Whitewater-Baldy fire forces evacuations in Mogollon, N.M.
Posted at: 05/25/2012 10:52 AM
| Updated at: 05/26/2012 6:44 PM
By: Mike Daniels, KOB Eyewitness News 4; Danielle Todesco, KOB Eyewitness News 4; KOB.com Staff
The Whitewater-Baldy fire has now burned 82,252 acres in the Gila Wilderness and is virtually uncontained.
No new structures were lost overnight.
The fire is burning in all directions and is currently four miles from the historic town of Mogollon.
On Saturday, the Catron County Sheriff's Office announced a mandatory evacuation for the community of Mogollon in southwest New Mexico due to the fire.
Residents can relocate to the Glenwood Community Center.
Large pets are allowed to stay temporarily at the Animal Collection Center at the home of county commissioner Hube McKeen.
Fire officials say they don’t believe they can fight the fire on the ground until Sunday.
However, two helicopters are on standby if they can fly in close enough to make a difference.
On Friday, Governor Susana Martinez said people from the state’s health department, Homeland Security and National Guard are monitoring the fire’s progress.
She acknowledged the Whitewater-Baldy fire is the largest active fire in the country, but lack of access for fire crews make it impossible to contain.
“Having it in the wilderness or the forest is very different from having it where we did in the past, having it near homes and communities and that sort of thing,” she said. “The fact that we can't even begin to control it or get near it is the difficulty of it burning it where it is today.”
U.S. Forest officials announced portions of the Wilderness, Reserve, Black Range and Glenwood Ranger Districts will be closed due to the Whitewater-Baldy fire burning in the Gila National Forest.
The Catwalk National Recreation Trail, Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument and the Gila Visitor’s Center will remain open to the public.