On May 29 an unattended campfire started what has now become the 3rd or 2nd largest fire in Arizona history at over 300,000 acres. [UPDATE: the fire topped out over 500,000 acres, the largest in state history] On June 2, the day the winds first whipped this fire into a massive beast, smoke poured across the state line into western New Mexico and settled into the Rio Grande valley, covering the greater Albuquerque area in smoke and ash. The city’s emergency management facilities were overwhelmed with calls to 911 and 511 reporting a fire. The city finally got through to all of the local news channels to tell people to stop calling so that real emergencies could be reported. Fire crews drove all over looking for actual fires but found none.
It took awhile but word finally got out that the smoke was from Arizona. Smoke from that fire has been seen as far away as Iowa! After we finally managed to get out of town and headed for Arizona ourselves on Monday, June 6, we still had to drive through the smoke near Gallup on I-40. By this time the smoke wasn’t as bad or as thick, and soon we were in clear skies. But the massive smoke plume was easily visible both that day in Holbrook and the next day when we visited the Petrified Forest National Park.
Here are a few pictures I took from different vantage points: