Texas and eastern Mexico are under siege. Accumulative climatic and weather conditions over the past 12 months have resulted in favorable conditions for wildfires. Relatively high moisture of last summer and fall nurtured lush grass growth, which can be a mixed blessing.
Unseasonably high precipitation in Big Bend and other areas of West Texas (and eastern Mexico) meant more water for both humans and wildlife. The latter welcomed a surge in lush forage. However, winter and spring have been dry. Coupled with constant high winds, the lush grass of last fall is now bountiful tinder for any spark or lightening strike (hence the reference to donder und blitzen, German for thunder and lightening, and the name of a river in eastern Oregon, which sees wildfires like this every year).
Last week, a fire north of Marfa in Big Bend ignited a firestorm unknown in Texas history. The fire literally flew 20 miles in 40 minutes, swept through the historic mountain town of Fort Davis and hopscotched from lawns to structures. No human lives were lost, but hundreds and more of cattle, horses and wildlife were burned to death. One person witnessed with horror as a herd of audad tried to outrun the fire and were instead engulfed. Alpine, the 'gateway' to Terlingua and the Big Bend parks, was threatened by a nearby fire. All highways radiating into and out of the town were closed while firefighters battled to contain the blaze.
WunderMap website provides a real-time map of the fires. Viewers can zoom in and out, and drag the map within the window. It changes with satellite updates. Right now, the fire that originated near Marfa and swept through the town of Fort Davis is 60% contained and moving north. Texas Forest Service posts updates several times a day on their website. Fires in Mexico continue to worsen.
Friends in the Big Bend area continue to keep us informed of the status of fires, relief and recovery in that area. All the communities down there are helping each other with support, emergency supplies and accommodations.
Those wising to read about the Big Bend fires and follow updates, click over to the website for the region's newspaper: Big Bend Now.