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Wildfire at Big Bend National Park sparked by lightning, now 80 percent contained

May 18th, 2017 under Top Stories


SOUTH BREWSTER COUNTY – Lightning is the presumed cause of a wildfire first spotted Sunday morning in the Juniper Canyon area of the Big Bend National Park, according to a NPS news release.

As of press time Wednesday, the fire was 80% contained, Austin Donzagoski, the public information officer for Crown Mountain told the Big Bend Sentinel and Presidio International.

Big Bend National Park fire crews responded to the fire Sunday and continue to monitor. The Los Diablos fire crew, a helitack crew, five hotshot crews, and a Type 3 wildland fire team have assisted in the fire fighting.

In an emergency update posted to Big Bend National Park’s Facebook page Tuesday evening, a park spokesperson said: “At 8 AM on Wednesday, May 17th the Chisos Basin Road will open. The Chisos Basin Campground will remain closed until Thursday as firefighters demobilize from the Park. However, many services will be available in the Chisos Mountains on Wednesday including the lodge, restaurant, visitor center, and all trails (including Lost Mine, Window, and South Rim).

“The Glenn Springs, Pine Canyon, and Juniper Canyon Roads and the primitive car camping sites and trails on those roads will also open at 8 AM. Although this fire ignited from lightning, we remind our visitors that ground and wood fires are prohibited and there is no smoking on the Chisos Mountains Trails (only smoke in designated areas). Wildland fire can be very beneficial to many ecosystems, but we hope to avoid accidental human-caused wildfires, especially during these hot, dry winds when fire can be difficult to manage. Throughout the next few months, we look forward to the opportunity to monitor the Crown Mountain Fire burn area to watch for signs of regrowth and will keep you updated.”

According to the news release, wildfires are a natural occurrence, and serve as an important tool for maintaining a healthy ecosystem. Fires break down organic matter and enrich the soil, as well as clear away dead and diseased vegetation. Fire management plans include strategies to protect visitor safety and park resources as well as fire’s potentially beneficial effects.

“We appreciate the fast response and support from our interagency and international partners, as we work together with these fire crews to safely manage this incident,” said acting park Superintendent David Larson.

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