Large wildfires during the heart of the southwest monsoon season are a fairly rare occurrence most years. Lightning sparked fires are typical in late June and early July before mainly dry thunderstorms transition to a wetter variety. These fires can be managed by land agencies while awaiting higher humidities to develop over the area. July 2015 was a very wet month for much of New Mexico (10th wettest July), with the exception of northwestern New Mexico where near normal precipitation was observed. August turned much drier for many areas of the state as monsoon moisture and instability focused over Arizona. On August 19th, the Navajo River Fire broke out northwest of Dulce, NM, quickly growing to more than 1,000 acres by the 20th. The photo below taken by Bryon Odallac shows an established smoke plume emanating from the nearby higher terrain on August 20th. The NASA SPoRT 0-10cm relative soil moisture imagery showed dry conditions coinciding with this same area of northwestern NM. The location of the wildfire is indicated by the “home” text. The 10-40cm relative soil moisture is also shown since it has been suggested that deeper layer soil moisture may better represent fuel conditions in more mature timber areas rather than the near surface duff layer. It is interesting to note that the 10-40cm layer values are actually wetter than the 0-10cm layer over much of this area. The two largest wildfires of the July to August monsoon period of 2015 have both occurred in these dry islands (see August 4, 2015 post on Fort Craig Wildfire).