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Western Wildfires

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Across the western United States, wildfire season is well underway, and dozens of fires are currently being fought. In Colorado, the High Park fire has destroyed more than 180 homes, the most in state history. The Whitewater-Baldy Complex fire, New Mexico's largest-ever wildfire, was recently declared 75 percent contained, after the lightning-sparked blaze began has burned for more than a month. Crews from California to Wyoming are approaching the fires with aerial water drops, ground equipment, brush clearing, and controlled burns. Gathered here are recent photos of some of these incidents, early glimpses of an already-busy 2012 wildfire season. [35 photos]

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A firefighter ignites a controlled burn, battling the Whitewater-Baldy Complex fire, in Gila National Forest, New Mexico, in May of 2012. (Kari Greer/USFS)
A firefighter ignites a controlled burn, battling the Whitewater-Baldy Complex fire, in Gila National Forest, New Mexico, in May of 2012. (Kari Greer/USFS)
The Little Bear Fire burns in the Lincoln National Forest near Ruidoso, New Mexico, on June 13, 2012. Some of the 2,500 people forced to evacuate their central New Mexico houses by wildfires raging near the resort village of Ruidoso began returning home this week with the help of National Guard troops, officials said. (Reuters/Kari Greer/USFS) #
Angeles National Forest firefighters make their way into a brush fire spread out over an area of more than 500 acres (2 square km) at Los Padres National Forest in California, on June 16, 2012. The fire started on Saturday afternoon in the hills of the forest between the cities of Frazier Park and Ojai. (Reuters/Gene Blevins) #
The sky turns a brilliant orange as smoke from the High Park Fire fills the sky near Laporte, Colorado, on June 10, 2012. (Reuters/Marc Piscotty) #
Whitewater-Baldy Complex fire, in Gila National Forest, New Mexico - a view from Forest Road 141, with scorched trees from the 2006 Bear Fire in the foreground. (Mormon Lake Interagency Hotshot Crew/USFS Gila National Forest) #
This image from the Expedition 31 crew aboard the International Space Station shows the smoke and some flames associated with wildfires in the Southwest, with the lights of the El Paso, Texas at center left. In the foreground, a Russian Soyuz spacecraft is docked to the station. (NASA) #
A single engine air tanker drops retardanton the 257 Fire, southeast of Superior, Arizona. (USFS) #
A fire crew at the Whitewater-Baldy Complex fire, in Gila National Forest, New Mexico, in May of 2012. (Kari Greer/USFS) #
A firefighter uses a drip torch to start a controlled burn, battling the Whitewater-Baldy Complex fire in New Mexico, in May of 2012. (Kari Greer/USFS) #
Leftover piles of wood from salvage logging from the 2006 Bear Fire are burned, in an effort to slow the current Whitewater-Baldy Complex fire, in New Mexico, on June 1, 2012. (Brandon Oberhardt/USFS Gila National Forest) #
Fire sweeps across the forest floor during the Whitewater-Baldy Complex fire in New Mexico's Gila National Forest, in May of 2012. (Kari Greer/USFS) #
Elk stand under smoky skies in Gila National Forest, New Mexico, on June 1, 2012. (Brandon Oberhardt/USFS Gila National Forest) #
An air tanker makes a retardant drop to help protect cabins in the Box Creek Fire in Utah, on June 6, 2012. (Kreig Rasmussen/USFS) #
A brush fire spread out over an area of more than 500 acres burns out of control at Los Padres National Forest in California, on June 16, 2012. The fire started in the hills of the forest between the cities of Frazier Park and Ojai. (Reuters/Gene Blevins) #
Tracy Greenwood embraces her daughter Mariah Greenwood, left, as they watch the High Park wildfire burn around their home west of Fort Collins, Colorado, on June 11, 2012. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski) #
A controlled burn surrounds a fire danger sign in the Three Points Fire District in Tucson, Arizona, on May 29, 2012. (Chris Ader/USFS Gila National Forest) #
A firefighting helicopter fills its tank while fighting the Sunrise Fire in Montrose County, Colorado, on on May 30, 2012. Original here. (CC BY ND Flickr user Slashvee) #
Firefighters watch as flames leap hundreds of feet in the air as the High Park wildfire fire explodes on the south side of Poudre Canyon, west of Fort Collins, Colorado, on June 14, 2012. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski) #
A helicopter drops retardant on a wildfire in Gila National Forest, New Mexico, on June 4, 2012. (Reuters/Kari Greer/InciWeb/United States Forest Service) #
Customers walk into Vern's convenience store as the window thanks firefighters for their efforts on the High Park Fire near Laporte, on June 12, 2012. More than 43,000 acres have been burnt with more than 500 firefighters tackling the fire. Officials were reporting five percent containment on the fire, which started days earlier from a lightning strike. (Reuters/Marc Piscotty) #
The Sun sets over a burned area of the Whitewater-Baldy Complex Fire, on May 29, 2012. (Brandon Bickel/USFS Gila National Forest) #
The glow of the Whitewater-Baldy fire, seen from a hill near Glenwood, New Mexico, on May 31, 2012. (AP Photo/David Thornburg) #
Trees burn in the Gladiator Fire, in Arizona's Prescott National Forest, in May of 2012. (Kari Greer/US Forest Service) #
A Sikorsky S-64 Aircrane firefighting helicopter drops water on a hotspot burning close to homes near Horsetooth Reservoir near Laporte, Colorado, on June 11, 2012. The High Park Fire in Larimer County has burned almost 37,000 acres and damaged or destroyed more than 100 structures. (Marc Piscotty/Getty Images) #
A firefighter at work in Gila National Forest, New Mexico, on May 30, 2012. (Kari Greer/USFS) #
Charred landscape caused by the Little Bear Fire in Lincoln National Forest, near Ruidoso, New Mexico, photographed on June 14, 2012. (Reuters/Kari Greer/USFS) #
Charred landscape caused by the Little Bear Fire in Lincoln National Forest, near Ruidoso, New Mexico, seen on June 14, 2012. (Reuters/Kari Greer/USFS) #
Smoke rises from the Whitewater-Baldy Fire in New Mexico, photographed on June 1, 2012. (Kari Greer/USFS) #
Smoke fills the air over a small barn turning the sky orange as the High Park Fire burns near Laporte, Colorado, on June 10, 2012. (Reuters/Marc Piscotty) #
A firefighter pauses with his chainsaw as he works along a perimeter in an effort to contain the nation's largest wildfire in the Gila National Forest in New Mexico, on May 31, 2012. (AP Photo/USFS, Brandon R. Oberhardt) #
Smoke and flames encroach upon homes on the eastern front of the High Park fire near Laporte, Colorado, on June 10, 2012. The wind-driven wildfire burning in the rugged Colorado canyon spread out of control, forcing hundreds of people to evacuate and one person in the fire zone was reported missing, officials said on Sunday. (Reuters/Marc Piscotty) #
A firefighting helicopter drops water on a hotspot burning close to some homes near Horsetooth Reservoir, on June 11, 2012 near Laporte, Colorado. (Marc Piscotty/Getty Images) #
Fire explodes on the south side of Poudre Canyon as the High Park wildfire burns west of Fort Collins, Colorado, on June 14, 2012. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski) #
Raging fire engulfs some of the rugged terrain off of Forest Rd. 141 in Gila National Forest, New Mexico, on May 30, 2012. (Reuters/Steven Meister/Mt. Taylor Hotshots/USFS) #
Charred trees from a forest fire in the Whitewater-Baldy Complex in New Mexico dominate the landscape in this June 2, 2012 photo. (Reuters/Kari Greer/US Forest Service/Handout.) #

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