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.