Holland Gage Wildfire update, Monday, 11 am

Gazette Publisher John Waters reported from the Sunny Glen subdivision on the west side of Alpine that the fire is still active in that area. One flank of the fire, at least, is burning close to Rim Road, near the intersection with Wagon Road. Firefighters continue to drop water from aircraft – about every minute or even every 50 seconds, says Waters.

FM 1703, access road to Sunny Glen, was open at this time.

According to Public Information Officer Jerry Rohnert, speaking to Tom Michael on Marfa Public Radio around 10:20 am, the fire was still going, spreading north-northwest. It has burned the ridge above Sunny Glen. Depending on weather, Rohnert reminded listeners, the fire’s behavior and direction could change quickly.  There are multiple persons fighting this fire on several flanks, including local ranchers helping via water tanks on trucks. Three “heavy airtankers,” several smaller cropduster-like aircraft, helicopters, and bulldozers creating new fire lines (strips cleared of brush) are all in use.

Below: helicopters dropped water on the leading edge of the fire near Rim Road in Sunny Glen on Monday morning, between 10:15 and 10:30 am.

With weather forecast calling for conditions similar to yesterday’s — hot,extremely dry (3-5% humidity), and windy — fire growth potential is still very high, noted Rohnert. At that time, winds in that area were about 20 mph; if winds exceed 30-35 mph, cautioned Rohnert, aircraft will be grounded due to unsafe conditions.

Rohnert said the fire was 10% contained and was estimated to have covered 3,500 acres since it started yesterday around noon, about 6-8 miles west of Alpine, but that he expected an update within a couple of hours.

A red flag warning remains in effect for West Texas and much of New Mexico, through tomorrow. For more info, visit National Weather Service.

Highway 67/90 is now open.

Union Pacific crews are repairing railroad tracks this morning and expect to re-open the railroad line late this morning.

A new wildfire has been reported near Iron Mountain, north of Marathon.

Also, the Schwartz Fire, which started Saturday around 5:30 pm, continues to burn about 20 miles east of Marathon. At last report, it was 5% contained and had encompassed 3,684 acres. Due to hot, dry, windy conditions and difficult terrain, the growth potential for this fire is very high.

For more information on wildfires in Texas and (and elsewhere),  visit Inciweb.org.

Above: Firefighters watering down a burnt area next to a newly-created fire line.

Above: Firefighter digging a fireline.

Above: Firefighters working along FM1703 at 11 am are from the U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs. They are based at Fort Duchesne, Utah. According to Chris Secakuku (left) the Northern Ute firefighters were doing mop-op operations and extinguishing hot-spots. Their goal was to “reinforce a line and make sure the fire did not cross the road,” said Secakuku.

Photos by John Waters.

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