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Presidio and Ojinaga firefighters contain fire in Big Bend Ranch State Park


Working together, multiple agencies were able to control the blaze in the Tapado Canyon area, near the park’s popular Hoodoos trail, by Monday night. | Lea esta nota en español

By Annie Rosenthal

Firefighters in Presidio County were able to contain a fire in Big Bend Ranch State Park Monday night as heavy winds spread across the region. The fire was largely confined to the Tapado Canyon area, near the park’s popular Hoodoos trail.

Saul Pardo Jr., a sheriff’s deputy and chief of the Presidio Volunteer Fire Department, said he responded to an S.O.S. call from the area around 12:30 p.m. Monday. Flames were reported about fifty yards from Highway 170, between the river and the road.

At first, Pardo Jr. said, it appeared that the fire would stop naturally at the canyon. But when the wind shifted to the northwest and the flames moved closer to power lines and the town of Redford, he called in the Presidio firefighters. He also requested support from Ojinaga’s volunteer fire squad, who crossed the border through Presidio to help at about 4:30 p.m.

The seven Presidio firefighters and their six Mexican counterparts were able to control the blaze by 8:30 p.m., according to Pardo Jr. 

“It was a pretty good amount of land,” he said. “We made sure it wasn’t gonna spread, and then at the end we stayed behind and put out all the hot spots around the edge.”

Pardo Jr. said about 90 acres burned –– but no park facilities were damaged, and the nearest ranch was a few miles away.

“I can’t stop thanking the volunteer firefighters for doing what they do,” he said.

Officials still aren’t sure what caused the fire. Pardo Jr. said it may have originated in Mexico and jumped the river.

On Tuesday, as much of the Big Bend region continued to face higher than normal temperatures and low humidity, Presidio County Emergency Management Coordinator Gary Mitschke urged residents to be cautious with fire hazards.

“Hopefully everyone’s gonna be careful with what they do out there,” he said.

A view of the fire from the parking lot near the Hoodoos trail in Big Bend Ranch State Park around 3 p.m. on Monday. (Video courtesy of Malynda Richardson)

Annie Rosenthal was Marfa Public Radio's Border Reporter, a role she held in partnership with Report for America. She worked at the station from 2021 to 2023.