ALBUQUERQUE, June 13 (UPI) -- The Wallow fire has now burned 452,000 acres, Arizona officials said, and Albuquerque renewed an air quality alert Monday.
The Albuquerque health department said the huge smoke plume has elevated particulate matter, and the warning for people with respiratory conditions would be in effect through Tuesday morning, the Albuquerque Journal reported.
Firefighters are facing stronger winds Monday, with gusts that could exceed 30 mph by nightfall, the National Weather Service said.
The Wallow fire is about to become the largest in recorded Arizona history, KNXV-TV, Phoenix, reported Monday.
The 452,000-acre blaze need consume only another 16,000 acres to set the record and is on current pace to do so in the next day or two.
All of the five largest fires in Arizona history have occurred since 2002, and two of them are burning now.
The other is the Horseshoe Two Fire in Cochise County, which started May 8 and by Monday morning had burnt 148,500 acres.
New Mexico Fire Information estimated the fire, which jumped the state line late Friday, had burned more than 5,000 acres in the state.
But Luna, N.M., firefighters told KOAT-TV, Albuquerque, their town is likely to be spared.
Fire crews set a controlled burn 2 miles from Luna and expected it to work unless the wind picks up too much in the next few days.
"For the resident having the rifle aimed at your town for days it has to be incredibly stressful," firefighter Steve Morefield said.
Earlier, some Luna residents were told to evacuate, the Albuquerque Journal reported.
Interstate 25, New Mexico's main north-south highway, was closed in both directions, as far north as Colorado, by a second fire, the Track fire, which burned at least 2,700 acres near Raton and showed no sign of abating Monday, KOB-TV in Albuquerque reported.
State health officials warned residents as far away as Albuquerque and Santa Fe about potential respiratory hazards as soot levels from smoke in eastern Arizona were nearly 20 times the federal health standard. Microscopic particles, about 1/28th the width of a human hair, can get lodged in the lungs and cause serious health problems, both immediate and long term, health officials said.
Health officials issued the same warning for the Arizona areas affected by the wildfires, advising people to stay indoors, close doors and windows, run air-filtration systems, and avoid exercise or strenuous physical activity.
Nearly 10,000 people forced from the Round Valley communities of Springerville and Eagar in eastern Arizona were allowed to return home Sunday after firefighters reported progress against the Wallow blaze, even as officials warned of lingering health risks due to air pollution.
The White Mountain Independent of Show Low, Ariz., said Monday firefighters were "mopping up" on the fire's north flank, south and east of Eagar.
More than 4,300 firefighters battled the fire, which began May 29, the U.S. Forest Service said. The blaze is believed to have been human-caused.