West Texas Wildfires Burn Again

One year after the Rock House fire, more than 20,000 acres in Jeff Davis County are aflame. 

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Frank Cianciolo/McDonald Observatory

One year after the massive Rock House fire (pictured above) in West Texas consumed 315,000 acres over a period of four weeks, Jeff Davis County is facing the first major Texas wildfires of 2012.

According to the Associated Press, spokespeople for the Texas Forest Service said that the 10,500-acre Livermore Ranch fire, which is near the Davis Mountain Resort, was burning uncontained, and residents of the resort had been ordered to evacuate. The 9,900-acre Spring Mountain fire was sixty percent contained.

“It’s going to be the biggest (fire) we’ve had this year to this point,” the Forest Service’s Patrick Allen told Jon Vanderlaan of the Odessa American. “[But] it’s not going to be as big as Rock House in any form or fashion.”

The two fires are now considered one incident, called the Livermore Ranch Complex Fire. A lightning strike on April 24 is believed to be the original cause. No structures have been burned thus far. 

Mose Buchele of StateImpact reported that heavy winds had hindered firefighters’ efforts Monday. He also noted that much of the area that’s burning also burned last year. Because of the drought, that land remains dry and easily sparked.

Texas Forest Service spokesperson April Saginor told Buchele that at least the locals understood the stakes.

“It’s like residents who live on flood plains,” she said. “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.”

Gina Martinez of NewsWest9.com in Midland spoke to some evacuees on Monday night who had taken refuge at Fort Davis elementary. 

The McDonald Observatory, which took the photo above, is still taking donations to its Wildfire Relief Fund, to compensate for last year’s closures and loss of visitors.

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