Energy and Environment Reporting for Texas

First Major Wildfires of 2012 Tear Through West Texas

Photo by Mose Buchele for StateImpact Texas.

The Rock House fire of 2011 started at this site outside of Valentine, Texas in April of last year. Much of the same area that burned in that fire is burning again today.

Evening Update: In a late afternoon interview the Texas Forest Service put the amount of land burned by both fires in the Livermore Ranch Complex Fire at over 23,000 acres. Reinforcements have arrived and the smaller of the two fires is now 60 percent contained. The larger fire, which continues to threaten the Davis Mountains Resort, is said to be 25 percent contained.

Two massive wildfires scorched over 19,000 acres of land and continue to burn uncontained in far West Texas as of Tuesday morning, said the Texas Forest Service. The fires are burning in roughly the same parts of Jeff Davis County that were scorched close to a year ago by the “Rock House Fire,” a massive blaze that ushered in a year of devastating wildfires throughout the state.

The fires, now jointly called the Livermore Ranch Complex Fire, were sparked by lightning on April 24. They threaten about 150 permanent residents as well as empty vacation structures in the Davis Mountain Resorts.

Texas Forest Service Spokesperson April Saginor says efforts to fight the fire have been hindered by heavy winds.

“We had some trouble yesterday because of the high winds, but we are hoping to be able to fly at least the helicopters and hopefully the heavy tankers today as well,” Saginor told StateImpact Texas.

She said she knew of 50 evacuations so far and no injuries.

Land Burned Twice

While heavy rains eased the drought in much of Texas over the winter, far West Texas got little relief, leaving the land there dry and highly flammable. In fact, much of the area burning today already burned last year in the Rock House Fire.

“I drove in yesterday and you see all the burned up lands coming in and you think, ‘how is there any left?'” said Saginor. “But the fuels are really dried out out here and it’s ripe for wildfires.”

She says the fact that the residents have a lot of experience with fire have helped evacuation efforts.

“It’s like residents who live on flood plains,” Saginor told StateImpact Texas. “These folks know that there is a threat of high winds in this area. They know that they had the Rock House fire last year. When we encourage them to evacuate they know that this is real and we mean business and they’ll heed that call.”

The Forest Service expects three more “hotshot crews” of firefighters to arrive in the area this afternoon to help suppression efforts. Saginor says she expect the fires will be better contained by the end of the day.


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