BIG BEND NATIONAL PARK, Texas – The fire burning in the rugged high country of the Chisos Mountains in far West Texas has now charred 929 acres of the 800,000 acres within Big Bend National Park, according to park superintendent Bob Krumenaker.
Krumenaker said the fire, which is 35% contained, began on April 8 by burning 15 acres. He said it continues to spread but not as quickly as it was.
“It’s growing slowly. It’s creeping. It’s smoldering,” Krumenaker said. “It’s making a few runs in the wilderness area. But there are no structures or any developments or any people that are at risk from this fire right now.”
Krumenaker said the fire was started on the South Rim trail, possibly by a tossed cigarette or an illegal campfire. The cause is under investigation.
The superintendent said the fire is being closely monitored, along with weather conditions and any threat of high winds.
The high country fire is 1,500- to 2,000-feet above the popular Chisos Basin.
Krumenaker said the Chisos Basin is the “highest place in Texas where you can camp or stay in a hotel or in a restaurant.”
However, public access is closed until further notice.
Krumenaker said Chisos Basin could be reopened by midweek, although the fire may not be out by then.
“The fire is likely to smolder up in the high country for weeks, probably, if not longer,” Krumenaker said.
Cooler temperatures, lower winds and humidity are helping, along with high country terrain, he said.
“Most fires go uphill,” Krumenaker said.
He also credits hotshot crews from New Mexico and Los Diablos, wild land firefighters from Mexico who also fought last year’s wildfires in California.
“They were the first ones on scene,” Krumenaker said. “They’ve done some incredible work.”
Krumenaker said luckily they were already in the park. Due to last week’s high fire danger, they were called on to clear away any vegetation to protect vulnerable structures. He said the fire comes just as more people were visiting Big Bend National Park.
“We’re not post-pandemic yet, but we’re mostly open,” Krumenaker said.
He said the fire is in Chisos high country in only a small portion of the park.
“There’s a lot of the other very interesting and enjoyable things to do in the park,” he said. “Just not the high country right now.”