Whitewater Fire

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PrestonSands
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Whitewater Fire

Post by PrestonSands » May 24 2012 1:24 am

The Whitewater Canyon and Whitewater Baldy area of New Mexico's Gila Wilderness is on fire. :cry:

( dead link removed )

>> > Whitewater Bald Complex Perimeter Map
"I'm going for a coffee, but you never know when a hike might break out." -Jim Gaffigan

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rwstorm
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Re: Whitewater Fire

Post by rwstorm » May 24 2012 10:27 am

( dead link removed )
Onward into oblivion!

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PatrickL
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Re: Whitewater Fire

Post by PatrickL » May 24 2012 5:40 pm

I was just browsing the trails around this area the other day, too. Didn't realize how big this thing was... Makes me feel better knowing it was caused by lightning.

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Jim_H
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Re: Whitewater Fire

Post by Jim_H » May 24 2012 9:09 pm

I know they aren't over bad parts, they just go to fairly benign areas of the fire, but the video of the burn looks really good to me.
Rocks!!

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Jim_H
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Re: Whitewater Fire

Post by Jim_H » May 26 2012 6:50 am

I'd really love to know what the area that is burning looks or looked like. This fire, for as extreme as the conditions are considered to be by those who seek to suppress or exclude fire from ecosystems, rather than manage it for the benefits it provides to them and conditions it perpetuates in fire maintained ecosystems, is a classic natural fire in a southwestern ecosystem. This assumes you see humans, or native Americans as not natural, and human started fires as completely unnatural. It was caused by early season dry lightning and is burning in the dry season. In 1800, this would have been a very common event, and it wouldn't be until the fire either ran out of fuel, or was extinguished by Monsoon rain in July or August that it would be "out", so essentially, one lightning strike fire (or two in this case) has potential to be enormous after many weeks of growth. From what I have seen over the last few years, and read in the Gila NF write-ups on this fire, there are a lot of older fire areas in the current burn area and burn path. I would love to see it rush eastwards, north of the Miller burn area (and into that as well) from last year, and through the ponderosa pine out into the pinyon and juniper. It would be nice to see it run across the high elevation grasslands, too.

I know it proves really great access ( I used it 2 years ago) to the wilderness, but the Gila Cliff Dwelling and Gila Hot Springs town really shouldn't be there, nor should the access road. It represents a huge salient into the region, and divides the wilderness at times. It would be extremely easy for the fire to jump the road in high winds to reach the eastern half of the Gila Wilderness, but the road also provides an advanced line where fire people can clear and burnout an area to slow or stop the fire. Something that is simply not wilderness at all.

I remind readers that 2 years ago, after a wet winter and spring, deep in the wilderness, a lightning fire in late May was suppressed at just under 1000 acres. It was accomplished by dropping Hot-Shots (Type 1 Crew) in to the fire zone to cut lines with tools, and probably chain saws. If that is following a wilderness ethic, then I don't understand what a "wilderness" designation is or why we even have it. This fire would have been pretty low intensity for the time of year thanks to higher fuel moisture values, and it's spread slower as a result. Very unlikely to see 50,000 acres in a day. Oh, well. At least it isn't like in the 1950s when they helicoptered bulldozers into the wilderness to plow lines. Yes, the FS acknowledges they did that. They are the source from which I read I read the information.
Rocks!!

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RedRoxx44
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Re: Whitewater Fire

Post by RedRoxx44 » May 26 2012 2:51 pm

No video but don't forget to click on pics link when at inciweb or---

( dead link removed )

I feel Jim is right on this, but I am getting tired of saying, " I am glad I saw this before the fires---"

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azbackpackr
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Re: Whitewater Fire

Post by azbackpackr » May 26 2012 4:37 pm

Have been able to see top of plume from my house at times.
There is a point of no return unremarked at the time in most lives. Graham Greene The Comedians
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mazatzal
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Re: Whitewater Fire

Post by mazatzal » May 27 2012 8:40 am

RedRoxx44 wrote:I am getting tired of saying, " I am glad I saw this before the fires---"
So true. :(

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Jim_H
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Re: Whitewater Fire

Post by Jim_H » May 27 2012 8:59 am

Perhaps due to the weekend, the inciweb is being updated in a minimal fashion. This: ( dead link removed ) is the 0700 update for today. The fire is over 122,000 acres. No updated map, though.
Rocks!!

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Jim_H
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Re: Whitewater Fire

Post by Jim_H » May 28 2012 9:24 am

( dead link removed )( dead link removed )
Updates to the incident including a new map. A west wind is forecast for the fire today, or is in the McKenna Park area, and hopefully that is seen as a low level priority area where lines will not be cut for a while nor will water be dropped by helicopters. A 10-15 mph wind would be excellent to push the fire into pure, grassy, near park-like Ponderosa pine as exists in the McKenna area, as well as around Lilly Mountain, over to Prior Cabin and Woodland Park. There are no planned activities in the interior of the wilderness (and really, there almost never should be except to protect existing historical structures) and so the fire's spread into the most appropriate location for a high fire return frequency, with low to moderate intensity, is a high probability. The only issue may be low fuel loads from the Jack Complex last year, which burned in previously high-intensity burned areas, and might slow or stop spread to the east.
Rocks!!

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Jim_H
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Re: Whitewater Fire

Post by Jim_H » May 31 2012 8:56 pm

( dead link removed )

The fire has made good, slow progress across the area of McKenna Park that was not burned in either the 2011 Miller Fire or the 2012 Horse Fire. The last time this part of the park saw fire was 9 years ago in the July-August time during the Granny Complex. Hopefully, the fire will continue to back and flank through McKenna to the eastern edge. Provided there was adequate grass growth and pine leaf shed last year, fuels should be dry enough to carry fire across the area. This is excellent news for people who like ponderosa pine. I know people typically see fire as bad, but once the area reopens to visitors later this summer, McKenna, Lilly, and Woodland park would be worth a visit and should be in great shape for grass and flowers.
Rocks!!

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azbackpackr
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Re: Whitewater Fire

Post by azbackpackr » Jun 02 2012 5:42 am

I still haven't seen a map where I can actually read the fine print (names of towns and places.)
There is a point of no return unremarked at the time in most lives. Graham Greene The Comedians
A clean house is a sign of a misspent life.

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Jim_H
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Re: Whitewater Fire

Post by Jim_H » Jun 02 2012 7:13 am

Best to rely on sections and land forms. The maps are small.
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Jim_H
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Re: Whitewater Fire

Post by Jim_H » Jun 02 2012 1:38 pm

http://www.ltrr.arizona.edu/~tswetnam/t ... erness.pdf

I probably posted that in the past, but it seems worth while to post again. Most noteworthy, is the mean frequency for the pine areas, the well know sharp drop off in frequency and area of fires (until recently) after 1900 and the need to incorporate prescribed fire over large ares to reintroduce fire.

This fire probably won't burn into the Miller Fire, but in a few years it should all be able to burn again, and really, ought to.
Rocks!!

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rwstorm
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Re: Whitewater Fire

Post by rwstorm » Jun 02 2012 10:41 pm

This is pretty good news..

( dead link removed )
Onward into oblivion!

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Jim_H
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Re: Whitewater Fire

Post by Jim_H » Jun 03 2012 8:00 am

I wish the FS published a map with the fires that burned over the Gila Wilderness in the last 30 to 50 years. GIS would be best. I'd really like to know how frequently the there was fire in the area where this burn grew by 60,000 aces in a day.

The google map update looks like fire has run into the Miller burn from last year, and while in Florida we could burn stuff every year or even 2x a year in the correct conditions, it probably will stop growing down there and not move into the Miller area. Fire moved around last year's Lilly Fire, and appears to be moving down toward Prior Cabin and Woodland Park. I hope Woodland burns, and fire is able to move out towards the east on the ridge above the West Fork. It sure would have been nice if the 2010 Horse fire had been allowed to run it's natural coarse, but a 2011 and 2012 fire is still pretty good for a 8 and 9 year return interval.
Rocks!!

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jonny5
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Re: Whitewater Fire

Post by jonny5 » Jun 04 2012 12:56 pm

I spent Memorial weekend in Kingston, NM and hiked the Crest trail to Hillsboro peak. The winds in the high country that day were very high (50+ at times). Made me wonder just what was happening over in the Gila.
The smoke pouring off the western Gila (Upper Whitewater?) was tremendous, so much so, it looked as if the fire had somehow jumped the highway towards AZ (even though the wind was decidedly blowing to the east). It is hard to believe the fire is burning north, through an area burned a number of years ago, and an area that looked like the surface of the moon, last I drove through it two years ago. There must still be fuel available. Sadly, it is now burning east of Snow Lake and will move down and through the Middle Fork before too long, barring a miracle.
Much like the Chiricahua fire of last year, based on built up fuels, and long periods of drought, you wonder if the entire range will not be affected in some ways. I years past (or under normal conditions) the higher mountains wouldn't burn badly based on moisture content in the groug and foliage. Not so now due to the multiple years of drought.
I am deeply saddened by this fire, natural or not. I guess it was inevitable, based on the dryness.

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chumley
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Re: Whitewater Fire

Post by chumley » Jun 04 2012 3:49 pm

Jim one of the problems is that fire perimeters don't tell the whole story. A fire line on a map with a year doesn't indicate if it was a crown-fire, match-stick moonscape, or a relatively healthy and rejuvenating ground fire. And I don't know of maps that show the quality of regeneration either. You commented on a photo earlier of the aspens now growing from the 1977 Radio Fire (http://hikearizona.com/photo.php?ZIP=263351). That is amazingly slow growth compared to other areas (I recall incredibly quick aspen recovery on parts of the Pinalenos after the 2004 Nuttall-Gibson), and obviously would affect how a current fire would burn through the area.

But as you've pointed out before, aspens on some of those slopes in Flagstaff aren't really a natural tree there anyway and subject to some inhospitable conditions for their own progress.
Profound observer

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azbackpackr
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Re: Whitewater Fire

Post by azbackpackr » Jun 04 2012 4:34 pm

250,000+ now.
There is a point of no return unremarked at the time in most lives. Graham Greene The Comedians
A clean house is a sign of a misspent life.

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Jim_H
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Re: Whitewater Fire

Post by Jim_H » Jun 08 2012 9:02 pm

Recent updates have maps with near stagnant growth in the SE section, aside from some new spots in the 2011 Miller fire area. I wonder if these will break out this weekend with the extreme winds being forecast.
Rocks!!

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