Evacuated by Fire in Fort Davis, TX!
“I’ve seen a lot of fire spread out in this country, and I’ve never seen anything like this” Gary Mitschke, Presidio County Emergency Services Coordinator
This was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before. We were just hanging out in the campground at Davis Mountains State Park having spent a lazy day walking the hills and visiting town for some shopping. At ~4PM we started to see what looked like a huge dust cloud on the horizon, but didn’t really think much about it. After all, it’d been a very dry and very dusty day (humidity had dropped to the single digits and winds were gusting up to 50MPH). We knew there was a threat of fire, given the conditions, but like all these things you always imagine the actual probability of the thing happening is too remotely low to worry about.
At 5PM the rangers started coming round to tell us to prepare for evacuation. By this time the cloud had grown ominously dark and we could smell the smoke. That’s when we knew it was serious and we were under threat of fire. Only an hour later the evacuation notice was given. Most of the roads were blocked so were diverted to Hwy 118 towards Kent. It was very tight and curved, but Paul did beautifully and about an hour later we were parked in a lot at an abandoned Chevron Station in Kent, TX safe and sound by Hwy 10.
What a ride! Since we got here I’ve learned the fire has engulfed part of the town and is still ranging. We spoke to some RVers at the parking lot last night who said they saw the fire crest the hilltop above the campground as they were leaving. One RV was still there, the owners likely away for a day-trip. We feel both shocked and relieved that we’re out of there. Only yesterday morning we were walking that same hill that burned, and had no inkling of what was to come. Thankfully, as an RV all we need to do is raise our jacks and we’re ready to leave with everything we own in the world, but if we hadn’t been home we might not have known and for the townspeople it’s a whole other matter.
From what I’ve learned the fire started at ~1:30PM yesterday only ~23 miles south of Fort Davis at Marfa and managed to reach town by 6PM fueled by dry vegetation and winds. It moved FAST, so much so that it’s outrun livestock and hasn’t been able to be contained. Thankfully the authorities were on top on the situation and managed to evacuate everyone in time. Everything depends on the conditions today. Although winds died down overnight, they’re expected to pick back up again today and humidity is still dangerously low. We’ll be thinking of the hard-working firemen today and hoping they get it under control. As for us, we’ll probably head into New Mexico, but I don’t think we’ve heard the end of this blaze.
Latest news from this morning:
It Was a Wave of Fire (Big Bend Now)
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We LOooVE Comments, So Please Do
Thanks for the post. My wife just had an interview with the park the day before this happened and left Marfa yesterday morning just before the fire happened headed for New Mexico to pick up her step father. We are in the works of purchasing a home outside of Fort Davis and I don’t think the area was overcome by fire but hear it was close. One of the buildings she ate breakfast in the morning before is one of the businesses that burnt. Everyone there is so nice and it is heartbreaking for such a great little town to get overcome by fire like this. I have been trying to keep up with the situation and came across your post. Thanks for posting and glad ya’ll made it out without incident! Safe travels……….
I agree that it’s just terrible. Fort Davis is such a beautiful town and area. Unfortunately latest news is that the firemen still have zero containement. We’ll be thinking of everyone over there today.
Another piece of news just out. Still zero percent containement. Very scary!
Latest news from Marfa radio is that structures within Davis Mountain State Park have been saved. Some fires still smouldering in town, but the main blaze appears to have moved on.
Thank God you are both OK and no lives were lost to the fire. We will keep you both in our prayers for safe travel and for all those in that area.
Sandie Dixon says
So glad to hear you guys are safe. The fire conditions everywhere in the southwest are terrible this year. Lots of prayers for everyone involved in this fire. Travel safe.
We do feel lucky to be safe and so very thankful we were home when the evacuation notice went out. Can’t help thinking about that one rig which was left behind. Hope they made it back and out.
Good Morning Nina and Paul,
This morning when reading the news on the web about the Fort Davis fires we immediately thought of you. We are extremely relieved you both are okay. It sounds like you did not get to visit the McDonald Observatory this trip; hopefully you will visit this area again and attend a star party. This past Saturday an open house was planned at the observatory. Take care and safe travels!
Sheila and Howard
Thanks so much for thinking of us. We are very happy to be safe, but feel bad for those who lost homes in the fire. We did actually make a Star Party at the Observatory, but just didn’t get a chance to post about it yet. The whole area is amazing and I do hope the fires don’t destroy too much of it.
My heart goes out to everyone that was affected by this fire; for those worried, scared, threatened, etc and especially to those whom have lost their homes and/or businesses. I feel a deep sorrow for all the animals that are caught in these situations as well.
My thoughts completely with yours. Nina
Bob McLean says
Glad you’re safe. We’re a world away and of course, would otherwise have no clue.
I commend you for posting this in spite of the turmoil.
Fire is a scary thing. I still vividly recall a large forest fire that came within a couple miles of our place back in Nova Scotia. I was a kid of maybe eight. I’m now past the half century mark, and I still can remember the sense of dread, so it left an everlasting impression.
Not much else to say.
Just…glad you’re safe.
Linda Sand says
Thanks for posting this. I’m SO glad you are safe and hope that last rig got out as well! The comments on the article link in your original post are amazing–such an outpouring of fear and love!
Thanks so much for the well wishes. I’m so very touched by all the comments that have come through today. Nina
Christy @ Technosyncratic says
Oh wow, that’s so scary. How awful for that one RV that was away on a day trip… what if they have pets? I have that same thought about any evacuation – it sucks to leave your home behind, but as long as you get out and can bring your pets with you, ultimately it will (hopefully) be okay. But if you aren’t there to get your animals…. yikes! 🙁
Christy. Exactly what I was thinking too. What if they had pets? I’d be absolutely devastated. I’m very thankful we were home when the evacuation notice went out. Nina
Glad your safe and sound 🙂
That is one nice thing about RV living when you have to get out of town/camp fast you can ! In an hour you can be fifty, sixty miles away from what ever is after you; storms, fire, trouble, whatever.
Stay safe and Happy Trails !
Thank you and yes we feel very fortunate to be so mobile. Horrible to think of the people who lost their homes in this. Nina
I will echo everyone’s thoughts & say so glad you made it to a safe place. When I read about the remaining rig, I immediately thought ‘oh no’ about the potential for pets inside. Another reason we are going to be posting our info on the outside of the rig when we are camping – a cellphone call/email from a ranger or a fellow camper could make all the difference in the world!
You know i’d never thought of posting our info on the rig until this happened. The thought of that last rig (and the potential for pets inside) definitely got me thinking. I would be prepared to lose the rig, but would be devastated if something happened to our pets. I think it’s a good recommendation. Nina
So this post lead to even more conversation between Keith & I, like what if we were too far away to get back in time, do we authorize someone to start smashing windows to get the kids? Would they? We are also considering a coded lockbox where we could put a set of keys in somewhere outside (maybe in a basement we don’t intend to lock) to offer another chance if we were called to move the rig and/or just get our kids out. The type A overplan/paranoid is coming out! 😉
Tricia, All your comments are completely valid & Paul and I have been discussing exactly the same things. In fact it’s prompted me to write more about it on the blog today. I’m still not sure what the right answer is for the pets, but I’m willing to look at all the options. By the way we do keep a spare set of keys in one of those magnetic boxes and I think it’s a good idea. It’s helped us once when a family member accidently locked the RV. Nina
Glad you are safe. Forest fires are scary. Feel for the people who have lost homes, animals. pets. Makes you realise again how fragile and precious life is.
MargieAnne, Indeed it does. Nina
Jerry and Suzy LeRoy says
Whew! Close call for you guys! Do you suppose you’ll write a campground review of that place? We’ve been in fire areas, both during a fire and shortly after, but never had to be evacuated. We hope it stays that way!
Yes, I’ll be writing a review. It was such a fabulous campground and definitely deserves a good mention. Unfortunately I didn’t have time to take alot of pictures and only got a few that I can use of the sites, but I will definitely review it anyway. Nina
jil mohr says
Glad all ended well for you….scary stuff…know the area….one we really like…is there anyway you can find out about the left rig?….we know people who do the lock box….the only thing I wonder about leaving info outside is that then everyone will know your business even those you don’t want to know…now sure what the best way would be…I guess everyone will have to come up with their own comfort level….safe travels my friends…so far it has been…
Jil, I agree. I’m not sure what the best way to handle the pets is. I have to admit this whole thing definitey got me thinking alot more about it. If I come up with any brilliant ideas I will definitely share them. Nina
Claudia and Wayne says
So glad you guys are safe. 🙂