Fire burns more than 850 acres in Big Bend National Park, may have started near popular campsite

Chisos Basin is closed due to fire

Smoke at Boot Canyon in Big Bend National Park. Image: NPS / M. Woolley
Smoke at Boot Canyon in Big Bend National Park. Image: NPS / M. Woolley (National Park Service)

A fire at Big Bend National Park that has burned for nearly a week has grown to at least 863 acres.

The National Park Service, which oversees the park in Far West Texas, said Monday that much of the fire is located in the “sky island” in the high Chisos Mountains.

The blaze has “left a patchy mosaic of scorched, burned, slightly singed, and untouched areas across the South Rim to Emory Peak, and into the lower Boot Canyon drainage,” officials said, adding that about two-thirds of the fire became stagnant after reaching rocky terrain or the edges of cliffs.

On Sunday, Diablos Firefighters contained the fire on the western edge and Mount Taylor Hotshots secured flames at Emory Peak, officials said. A helicopter was also brought in to drop buckets of water.

The fire extended east and reached the summit plateau of Toll Mountain by Sunday evening, officials said.

South Rim Fire: aerial view of Boot Canyon to the Pinnacles pass area. Firefighters are currently active in this area. It is the source of much of the smoke this afternoon.

Posted by Big Bend National Park on Sunday, April 11, 2021

On Monday, firefighters were at the lower Boot Canyon and Toll Mountain.

The cause of the fire is unknown, but officials said it is believed to have started near a “popular backcountry campsite.”

“The Chisos Mountain woodlands are home to a variety of plants and animals, many of which are found nowhere else in the United States,” park officials said in a news release. “These high-elevation desert woodlands have been shaped by wildfire for thousands of years and depend upon fire to keep them healthy and resilient. Many of the areas currently burning have not seen fire for 70 years or more.”

As a result of the flames, the park has closed the Chisos Basin, including the Window and Lost Mine trails.

Officials on Monday said the fire had not spread to the Chisos Basin developed area.

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Rebecca Salinas has worked as a digital journalist in San Antonio for six years. Her skills include content management, engagement and reporting.