Wildfires threaten remote West Texas resort

Wildfire specialists have been summoned to reinforce the fire line guarding a remote, rugged West Texas resort development from an approaching wildfire, officials said Tuesday night.

Wildfires, which had burned about 24,000 acres of slopes and canyons in the Davis Mountains of West Texas, had spread to a half-mile from the Davis Mountain Resort, Texas Forest Service spokeswoman Catherine Hibbard said late Tuesday. The development on the slopes and in the canyons of the Davis Mountains is about 175 miles southeast of El Paso.

Specialists called "hot shots" will be moved to the line closest to the fire in an effort to keep it from entering the rustic development, Hibbard said. "We're putting all of our best-qualified personnel on the line to protect the DMR," she said.

No structural damage or injuries had been reported, but Hibbard said the fire closest to the resort was about 30 percent contained as of late Tuesday night after scorching almost 13,400 acres. About 150 of the more than 400 houses in the resort are occupied year-round, and residents were ordered to evacuate. However, "there are still people in there," Hibbard said.

About 250 firefighters, in all, maneuvered through rugged, remote canyons in West Texas on Tuesday as they battled the first major Texas wildfires of the season. Part of the area experienced uncontrolled wildfires exactly a year ago.

Efforts to protect the resort were being made on the ground and in the air, but building a fire line around the resort was complicated by the rugged land, said forest service spokesman Patrick Allen said.

"They're working on it," he said, adding that firefighters were being helped by calm winds. "But it's in really tough terrain."

A nearly 10,500-acre blaze about 10 miles to the northeast was in a "mop up" stage by Tuesday night. That's the last stage that involves finding and extinguishing hotspots.

The forest service said storms Monday night pushed in winds and lightning strikes that sparked the fires.

The Livermore Ranch area was struck by a complex of fires that swept through Fort Davis a year ago. It was one of the worst wildfires in recent history in Texas and left more than 200,000 acres charred.