SPRINGERVILLE, Ariz. – An eye-stinging, throat-burning haze of smoke spewing from a gigantic wildfire in eastern Arizona is beginning to stretch as far east as central New Mexico, prompting health officials to warn residents as far away as Albuquerque about potential respiratory hazards.

The 672-square-mile blaze was no longer just an Arizona problem Saturday as firefighters moved to counter spot fires sprouting up across the state line and lighting their own fires to beat it back.

The forest fire remained largely uncontained, and officials worried that the return of gusty southwesterly winds during the afternoon could once again threaten small mountain communities that had been largely saved just a few days ago.

Levels of tiny, sooty particles from the smoke in eastern Arizona were nearly 20 times the federal health standard Saturday. That was down from roughly 40 times higher a day earlier, but it was all at the mercy of the winds.

Today could get even worse, said Mark Shaffer of the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality.

“Things got better, but they’re still bad,” Shaffer said Saturday.

The 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, Shaffer said.

New Mexico officials were continuously monitoring air quality in their state and are advising residents from the Arizona border to Albuquerque to pay close attention to conditions.