New Mexico fire haze reaches Prescott area as city sets heat record

New Mexico fire haze reaches Prescott area as city sets heat record 

01 June 2012

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USA — A thick, white haze over northern Arizona Friday was coming from the huge Whitewater Baldy Complex Fire in western New Mexico, the National Weather Service said.

The haze should start clearing up this weekend as westerlies strengthen, said meteorologist Chris Outler at the Weather Service office in Flagstaff.

Even though winds were coming out of the southwest Friday, a high-pressure system over the Four Corners picked up the Whitewater Baldy Complex smoke and pushed it counterclockwise through southeastern Arizona and then up to northern Arizona, Outler said.

Friday also set a record high temperature of 96 degrees at the Sundog measuring site on the northeast side of Prescott, Outler said. The previous record for June 1 was 94 degrees in 2002. City records date back to 1898.

Temperatures should be cooling down into the 80s in the coming days, Outler said.

Tony Sciacca’s Type I national incident management team is heading up the battle against the 217,998-acre Whitewater Baldy Complex on the Gila National Forest. It’s the largest wildfire in New Mexico’s history and only five percent contained.

Sciacca is the coordinator of the Arizona Wildfire and Incident Management Academy in Prescott, after retiring in 2007 from his job as the fire management officer on the Prescott National Forest’s Bradshaw Ranger District. He served three decades on the Prescott.

For the first time during the wildfire’s duration, fire officials didn’t issue an update Friday on the Gladiator Fire south of Prescott near Crown King. Prescott National Forest officials plan to issue the next update on Monday.

The last update on Thursday listed the Gladiator Fire at 16,240 acres and 70 percent contained.

The fire started May 13 at a home about a mile north of the main street of Crown King, a tiny historic mining community located about 20 miles south of Prescott. The community was evacuated and six structures burned, including five homes.

Prescott National Forest officials closed the southern portion of the Bradshaw Ranger District because of firefighting activities. A map of the closure area is available on the forest’s website at

Crown King was opened to the public Monday after residents returned, but the national forest surrounding it remains closed to everyone. The only current way to get to Crown King is via the county road from Cleator.

Fire-use restrictions are in effect throughout Yavapai County on public and private lands.

Fireworks always are illegal on public lands, and currently they are prohibited everywhere in the county too.

For details about local and regional fire restrictions, go online to and People also can call 877-864-6985 for information on fire restrictions on state and federal lands in Arizona.

The forecast for Prescott calls for a slight cooling through next week but no rain is in sight. Critical fire weather conditions could pop up with increasing winds.

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