By Wednesday there were 120 responders on the ground in Fort Davis. (Photo courtesy of the Texas A&M Forest Service)
A federal response crew is expected to arrive Thursday in Fort Davis to assist with multiple fires near the Davis Mountains.
The Scenic Loop Complex — the name for a group of 6 individual fires — is burning near the northern part of Highway 166 and, as of Wednesday, has affected 8,134 acres in the area.
In the first days of the Scenic Loop Complex — which began on June 3 when a lightning storm sparked 18 fires in the Davis Mountains area — crews from the Texas Forest Service, Fort Davis, Marfa, Valentine and Cherry Creek had responded, but that wasn’t enough.
“We got six fires, we’re stretched pretty thin,” says Fort Davis Fire Department representative Jim Fowler.
But now, Fowler says, the response to the fire has grown. As of Thursday, there are an estimated 250 responders on the ground, as well as a federal incident management team.
In total the 6 fires have affected roughly 8,100 acres in the Davis Mountains area. This isn’t the first fire of the season. In early May a lightning strike ignited the McDannald Ranch fire, which spread across 21,000 acres in Jeff Davis County and took nearly 2 weeks to be fully contained.
Officials say the fires are not currently threatening any subdivisions, like the Crow’s Nest or the Davis Mountains Resort. But the edge the 48 Tank fire is about 2-and-a-half miles from the DMR. “I want to stress it’s not threatening the Davis Mountains Resort, but if things change it could,” says Fowler.
The 48 Tank fire is one of two blazes that is currently burning through the Nature Conservancy. It’s spread across 700 acres and is 35 percent contained. The other, the Windmill fire, has affected 1,000 acres and is 25 percent contained. Fowler says the two fires have grown closer to each other in recent days. The northern edge of 48 Tank and the southern edge of the Windmill fire are now roughly three-quarters of a mile apart.
Scenic Loop Complex wildfires🔥 #Texas #USA🇺🇸 05 June 2018 NIR/SWIR + IR highlights #Copernicus #Sentinel-2B🛰️ Full-size: https://t.co/i7rulh6l6o #wildfire #ScenicLoopComplex pic.twitter.com/ciJqWJZDdt
— Pierre Markuse (@Pierre_Markuse) June 6, 2018
Within the Scenic Loop there are 4 additional fires still burning.
The Long X2 fire is consuming the area’s dry brush and grass. The fire has burned through 3,000 acres and is 40 percent contained. By Wednesday night, the Bear Mountain fire had spread across 3,000 acres in Jeff Davis County; it is 40 percent contained. The Jones/Phillips fire has a footprint of 1,600 acres and is nearly contained, at 75 percent. The smallest fire — the Brooks fire — has spread through 150 acres and, as of Thursday morning, is 75 percent contained.
Today fire officials say their main priority is to work on the 48 Tank fire and the Long X2 fire, which is burning close to the highway.
Crews will be constructing a fire line there and cleaning the area of any “fuels” — dry grass and shrub that can quickly burn.