Firefighters Battle 600-Acre Wildfire in Big Bend National Park

Firefighters continue to battle the 600-acre South Rim Fire in Big Bend National Park that has been burning for at least three days.
National Park Service

Firefighters continue to work to contain a 600-acre wildfire in Big Bend National Park that has been burning for at least three days.

The National Park Service said Sunday that the South Rim Fire, which was first spotted on Thursday, quieted down overnight and did not make its way into the Chisos Basin and is backing down the Boot Canyon.

Firefighters continued to focus Sunday on active spots along the edges of the fire.

The initial fire encompassed about 15 acres, but aided by high winds, warm temperatures and low humidity, the South Rim Fire had spread to about 600 acres by Saturday and the Park Service estimated it would continue to grow.

By 4 p.m. Saturday, the fire had reached the summit of Emory Peak and could be seen from the Chisos Basin developed area about 2,000 feet below, the Park Service said.

Though the cause has not been determined, the fire appeared to originate on the southern edge of the South Rim of the Chisos Mountains, a rugged and remote location that is difficult to access.

But the cliffs and terrain that make accessing the fire more complicated may also help slow its spread and give firefighters an opportunity to contain it, according to Incident Commander D.W. Ivans.

The National Park Service said fire is an important part of the ecosystem's health and natural wildfire has shaped the Chisos pinyon, juniper and oak woodlands.

“While this is a growing incident, fire in the High Chisos is not unexpected nor a tragedy,” Big Bend National Park Superintendent Bob Krumenaker said in a statement. “I have great confidence in the fire team and everyone at Big Bend appreciates the expressions of support that are coming in. Our foremost objective is to protect human safety, and as part of that, we’re working to keep the fire out of the Basin."

Krumenaker thanked visitors for quickly clearing the basin area, which is now closed to guests, and to the staff and volunteers for their help.

The Chisos Basin closure extends to the road, campground, lodge and trails, including the Lost Mine and Window trails.

There are 69 personnel dispatched to help fight the fire, including the Diablos and Mount Taylor Hotshots. A helicopter team was also expected to join the effort Sunday.

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