Palo Duro Canyon TX Fire Under Control

Officials said a grass fire at Palo Duro Canyon State Park that started Monday afternoon was under control Tuesday evening, though emergency crews remained nearby to keep watch as strong winds blew through the region, reports Amarillo Globe News.

The fire — which park officials said was accidentally sparked by a backpacker using a portable stove — was considered under control by Randall County Fire Chief James Amerson about 5:20 p.m. Tuesday, according to a news release issued by the Randall County Sheriff’s Office.

Firefighters left the canyon Tuesday evening, according to the release. Officials said Texas A&M Forest Service personnel, along with Randall County deputies and its Emergency Services Unit, will remain in the canyon throughout the night to monitor the situation.

According to the National Weather Service’s Amarillo office, the area was expected to see strong winds gusts up to 60 mph. NWS meteorologist Justyn Jackson urged residents to avoid any outdoor activities that carry a fire risk under Tuesday’s conditions.

Assuming the fire didn’t rekindle Tuesday night, Palo Duro Canyon State Park was scheduled to reopen at 8 a.m. Wednesday.

The fire, which was held to 16 acres in the southern reaches of the park, forced more than 80 campers out of the canyon and kept firefighters from four departments busy Monday night and Tuesday, park Superintendent Cory Evans said.

Evans said the timing of the fire is unfortunate for park authorities as schools let out for spring break this week. The park saw about 7,000 people come and go during spring break 2013, he said.

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