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Buffalo Trail Ranch feels the heat

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Posted: Friday, April 22, 2011 12:00 am | Updated: 4:47 pm, Mon Aug 27, 2012.

The Buffalo Trail Scout Ranch in Jeff Davis County is starting to feel the heat as 2,000 of the more than 9,000-acre ranch has been burned since Tuesday.

“At this point, our base camp is safe due to the expanded safety break around our buildings and temporary sprinkler system,” Buffalo Trail Council Scout Executive Lyman Gifford said.

The Rock House fire in Jeff Davis County has burned 202,700 acres as of Thursday and was 75 percent contained, Texas Forest Service spokeswoman Hannah Farley said. The TFS has set up perimeters around the scout ranch’s base camp, and the area and structures that are wet are being kept wet.

“I cannot express my gratitude enough to the firefighters and Texas Forest Service and the U.S. Forest Service for their diligent actions to help preserve the Buffalo Trail Scout Ranch,” Gifford said.

Resources from the Cannon Group in Pecos County will be on their way to assist in the Rock House Fire, TFS spokeswoman C.J. Norvell said. The Cannon Group, along with the Frying Pan Ranch fire in Andrews County, are 100 percent contained as of Thursday evening. The Cannon Group burned about 64,000 acres and the Frying Pan Ranch Fire burned about 81,000 acres, Norvell said. She said thunderstorms in the area weren’t expected to affect those fires much, although lightning started two fires in Mason and McCulloch Counties that were quickly put out.

Gifford said that on Tuesday the Rock House fire reached the southeast portion of the camp outside of the Bob Manning Canyon and by Wednesday the fire-line was at the Million Dollar Canyon. As of Thursday afternoon, the fire line was inside the base camp. As of Thursday, there were no reported loses of structures on the ranch, Gifford said.

The 60 horses and two dozen heads of cattle have been evacuated and taken in by local ranchers who live in the area, Gifford said. No animals have been lost to the blaze, but Gifford said that the pastures where the animals graze have been burned and donations will be needed to help feed them.

“The ranchers have been good to us,” Gifford said. “All the ranchers become your friends.”

Deana Savage, the Buffalo Trail Council president, said other than the feeding pastures, the fires have burned nothing but undergrowth.

Should the structures remain intact after the fire, the council plans to open the camp in the first full week of June. Gifford said there have been no reports of trails being burned and that by bringing in the campers, it helps boost the economy in the surrounding towns of Fort Davis, Balmorhea and Alpine.

“It’s important we keep it open,” Savage said.

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