The Wallow wildfire which broke out on Sunday May 29th, 2011 at approximately 01:30 PM in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in eastern Arizona has now consumed 389,000 acres and continues to blaze unabated. According to the latest USDA Forest Service report over 1,943 personnel including 119 engines, 26 water tenders, and 9 dozers along with rotary air attack aircraft are currently deployed. Whilst the origin of the fire has been categorized as “human” the investigation remains ongoing.
The Apache County Sheriff’s Office has issued a pre-evacuation alert for Greens Peak, Hidden Meadow and the surrounding areas. A similar alert for Luna, New Mexico was issued by the Catron County Sheriff’s Office. Residents impacted by the fire are asked to be prepared to move at short notice in the event an evacuation is needed. The communities of Eager, Springerville, South Fork, Sunrise, Greer, Blue River, Alpine and Nutrioso have already been evacuated.
Inciweb reported yesterday that the Wallow fire had made runs toward the communities of Greer and Eager and that fire fighters are currently in position in the affected communities, including Greer, conducting structure protection operations. Red Flag Warnings are still in effect for the area and spot fires are occurring up to 3 miles ahead of the fire. To-date 1 structure has been damaged and 11 lost.
Check out some amazing and terrifying pictures from the USFS and the fire teams on the ground.
Fortunately for RVers the fire lies almost mid-way between I40 (east-west) to the north and I-10 (east-west) to the south. Essentially it sits in the middle of a square with Flagstaff at the top left, Albuquerque at the top right, Las Cruces at the bottom right and Tucson at the bottom left. The Apache National Forest was closed to all recreational traffic at noon on June 3rd and many of the local campgrounds were evacuated including; Sprucedale Guest Ranch, Brentwood Church Camp, Hannagan campground, KP campground, West Fork Black River campground, East Fork Black River and the Strayhorse campground. Some roads within the area are now closed. State Route 260 is closed in both directions east of the Hawley Lake turnoff (State Route 473 junction) and Eager.
Given the current firefighting efforts, and the poor atmospheric conditions (due to smoke) RV’ers would be advised to avoid camping anywhere in the area, including within the Tonto National Forest, Cibola National Forest and the Gila National Forest. The Petrified Forest National Park and El Malpais National Monument – just off I40 – are still open. However, as an aside, the lava tube caves at El Malpais were closed to the public in December, 2010.
This article was updated on June 10th here: Arizona Wallow wildfire decimates mountain properties
Additional Information:Residents with livestock or animals that need care should contact the Apache County Sheriff’s Office (928) 337-4321 or the Greenlee County Sheriff’s Office (928) 865-4149.
Source: InciWeb Incident Information System | USDA Forest Service | Hazardous Smoke Health Information: Arizona Department of Health Services