Wildfires in New Mexico: A Ranking of the Largest Fires Since 1990

2023-07-05 10:56:23

According to the U.S. Forest Service, the 2012 Whitewater-Baldy Fire in the Gila was previously the largest wildfire to burn in the state. The 2011 Las Conchas Fire in the Santa Fe National Forest was the second largest, followed by the Silver Fire that burned in the Gila in 2013.

As of June 2023, the Calf Canyon-Hermits Peak Fire burning in the Santa Fe National Forest is now the largest wildfire in New Mexico’s history.

Here is a list of the largest wildfires to burn in New Mexico since 1990.

1. Calf Canyon-Hermits Peak (Santa Fe National Forest 2022) 341,735 acres

This wildfire ignited from a series of prescribed burns near Hermits Peak and Calf Canyon in early April 2022 which merged into a blaze that consumed over 300,000 acres.

More: Christmas tree sellers feel effects of New Mexico wildfire

2. Black (Gila National Forest 2022) 325,136 acres

The cause of the Black Fire was noted as human-causedigniting in the Gila National Forest in May 2022.

The fire led to the evacuation of nearby Truth or Consequences, destroyed structures and took upward of 600 personnel to contain.

A look back at reporting:

3. Whitewater-Baldy (Gila National Forest 2012) 297,845 acres

Previously the largest wildfire in New Mexico History, this blaze began when lightning struck near Mogollon Baldy and the headwaters o Whitewater Creek near Glenwood in May 2012.

The fire destroyed more than a dozen homes leading to mass evacuations. It was finally contained in July 2012 but scorched conifer, ponderosa Pin, pinyon and juniper as well as grasslands found in the Gila Wilderness.

More: Southern NM ranchers looking for help with Gila rehab and property damage

4. Las Conchas (Santa Fe National Forest 2011) 156,593 acres

On the afternoon of June 26, 2011 the Las Conchas fire ignited when a tree fell on a power line. The fire grew quickly consuming fuel and pushed by strong winds into Frijoles Canyon.

In the aftermath of the fire, officials worried about flooding in the regionand in August rain in the Jemez Mountains flowed into the area damaging park resources.

In related news: Scientists warn El Niño is likely coming. What does that mean for New Mexico?

5. Silver (Gila National Forest 2013) 138,546 acres

In June 2013 the Silver Fire ignited near Mimbres and Silver City as the state grappled with dry weather conditions as a result of lightning.

It ravaged large portions of the Gila National Forest and forced the evacuation of Kingston.

NM Forester Laura McCarthy: Properly trained volunteers are critical to New Mexico wildfire suppression efforts

There have been several other destructive fires in New Mexico history. Here are the next largest fires recorded in the state:

Donaldson (Lincoln National Forest 2011) 101,563 acresDry Lakes (Gila National Forest 2003) 94,580 acresPasco (private land 2009) 93,029 acresMcDonald (Lea County 2006) 92,390 acresComplex (Colfax County 2002) 92,194 acresJohnson (Gila National Forest 2021) 88,918 acresMiller (Gila National Forest 2011) 88,835 acresBlack Range Complex (Gila National Forest 2005) 80,502 acres

Jessica Onsurez can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @JussGREAT.

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