The Whitewater-Baldy fire that started on May 16 has burned across more than 354 square miles of the Gila National Forest in southwestern New Mexico.
The largest wildfire in New Mexico's recorded history, and the largest currently burning in the country, was started when a pair of lightning-sparked fires that grew together to form the massive blaze.
Because of the wilderness (the Gila is home to the world's first designated wilderness area) and the complexity of the fire, besides the 15 hotshot crews and 12 hand crew that are working to contain the fire, heli-rappellers have been brought in to assist.
Heli-rappellers generally come in during early stages of a remote fire, especially where there is no good landing zone. The “rappellers” will rappel from a helicopter into remote locations and extinguish fires or provide reconnaissance information.
As of this evening, the fire is about 15 percent contained with more than 1,200 firefighters battling the fire.
My prayers go out to the men and women who have worked tirelessly to contain the fire.
Photo's were taken by various hotshot crew members and provided courtesy of the US Forest Service Gila National Forest.