Around noon today, a Union Pacific Railroad crew reported a wildfire burning on the railroad tracks just west of Alpine. By about 12:30 pm, from downtown Alpine, a black plume of smoke was visible to the west. The fire appears to have started about a mile west of the rest area along HWY 90. According to Tom Santry, Brewster County Emergency Services Coordinator with whom the Gazette spoke on scene near Paisano Pass, where flames were clearly visible just north of the highway (above), the fire started on the Gage Holland Ranch, and has moved into the McIntyre/Morrow Ranch.
At the time of this posting, Hwy 90/67 has been closed to all traffic between Alpine and Marfa, and all train traffic has been stopped.
Sunny Glen, a residential area on the west of Alpine, is being evacuated. The road to Sunny Glen was closed briefly; at approximately 2:30 pm, a state DPS agent told the Gazette that FM1703 which leads to Sunny Glen was being re-opened to allow residents “limited access,” to procure family members and pets.
Currently the fire is near Toronto Creek, which intersects FM 1703, the only road in or out of Sunny Glen.
Firefighting crews from Alpine, Marfa, Fort Davis, and the Texas Forest Service are on site, and air tankers are being employed as well. The high heat, low humidity, and winds are challenging firefighting efforts.
Current temp is 91 F and forecast is for winds out south-southwest are pushing the fire in a north-northeasterly direction.
Check back here for updates, and for live coverage, listen to KRTS, 93.5 FM
ABOVE: At 2:10 pm, Brewster County Sheriff Ronny Dodson arrived and blocked incoming traffic to Sunny Glen on FM 1703. The road has seen been reopened for limited access, only to allow residents to access and evacuate family and pets.
Photos by Marlys Hersey.