May 31, 2012 11:10 AM by Paul Kavanaugh
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - A giant wildfire in the Gila National Forest that is already New Mexico's largest ever has grown to nearly 300 square miles.
Fire officials said Thursday that the erratic blaze grew overnight to more than 190,000 acres and is spreading in all directions, as officials in the western U.S. prepare for what will likely be a busy wildfire season.
A dry climate is expected to prolong drought conditions across the Great Basin and central Rockies. Experts say dangerous fire conditions will likely spark more massive blazes.
Fire information officer Iris Estes says more than 1,200 firefighters are at the massive blaze near the Arizona border. She says the fire is 5 percent contained.
The Gila forest fire is the largest wildfire currently burning in the country.