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South Rim 4

Unit Information

Big Bend National Park
National Park Service
Big Bend National Park, TX 79834, TX 79834

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This incident is no longer being updated.

This photo shows a small smoke column coming from a rocky slope in the high Chisos Mountains. It is a hot spot that is still smoldering and putting up smoke.Image options: [ Full Size ]

The South Rim 4 fire was declared "out" on June 1, 2021. 

  • Immediate hazards have been mitigated. Tree mortality will continue to be monitored and mitigated as needed. 
  • Temporary hazard awareness signs have been placed in around the burn area. Permanent aluminum signs have been ordered

The South Rim 4 Fire has had zero growth over the last six days. Cooler temperatures and higher humidity have reduced fire activity and slowed spread. There are still a few fingers of active burning and various hot spots within the perimeter of the fire. Smoke has been reported in the Townsend areas of the Chisos. Those areas will be watched. The fire is 80% contained. 

After burning for eleven days, the South Rim Fire has grown to 1341 acres and extended through much of the “sky island” of the high Chisos Mountains; however, the fire has not grown for four days. Aerial reconnaissance observed that the fire has left a patchy mosaic of scorched, burned, slightly singed, and untouched areas across the South Rim to Emory Peak, and into the lower Boot Canyon drainage. Several fingers of active burning continue.

The cause of the South Rim 4 Fire remains unknown.

Details of each operational period events: 

Fire on the South Rim, as of 4/8/2021: The fire size upon initial size-up was 15 acres and located at the southern tip of the South Rim between Boot Canyon and Laguna Meadow. The head of the fire has met the edge of the rim and slowed. Yesterday, Texas Forest Service air attack has dropped retardant to keep the fire spread down while a crew of firefighters (the Diablos) were headed to the scene, and monitoring the situation through the evening. Trails and campsites in the high Chisos are closed to entry.  

As of 1600 (4 p.m.), 4/9/21: The fire is backing toward the north and west. High winds are expected to continue into the evening. Our firefighters are working hard to contain the fire to the East and south of the Colima trail and south of the Boot cabin. Fire size is estimated at 300 acres. 

On 4/9/2021: The South Rim Fire extended along the rim last night. Current on-site estimate is ~250 acres, primarily along the extreme southern edge of the South and East Rim. Additional retardant drops will occur today. Winds remain strong from the west/NW which is considered favorable. The firefighters are working hard in challenging conditions to keep the fire from spreading.

On 4.10.21 crews worked on structure protection of Boot cabin and the corrals. A successful backburn in the Chisos was conducted for structure protection of Boot cabin. 

By late Saturday, about 2/3 of the fire’s perimeter had stagnated after moving into rocky terrain and cliff edges. It is also slowly backing down Boot Canyon.

On 4.11, crews worked on containment along the fire’s slowing edges in the High Chisos and setting up structural protection in the Basin developed area. Structural fire engines will be staged in the Basin area.

By late Sunday, the Diablos Firefighters were able to cold-trail and contain the entire western flank of the fire, while the Mount Taylor Hotshots worked directly on advancing flames at the Emory Peak/Pinnacles saddle. With the help of carefully coordinated helicopter bucket drops of water, the crews were able to successfully secure that area. During the evening hours, fire climbed the eastern side and across the summit plateau of Toll Mountain. Flames and thick smoke were observed throughout much of the park. 

On 4.12, Using 18 bucket drops they were able to get that under control and saved the Toll Mountain Campsite and composting toilet, trees, etc. in that area.

On 4.13, cooler temperatures and higher humidity helped slow fire spread. The two hotshot crews will remain to monitor and take advantage of any opportunities to extend the containment. The structural crews have the Basin developed area prepped and protected. 

On 4.14, another day of cooler temps and higher humidity has really helped keep fire activity down. Yesterday there was NO fire growth. Helicopter bucket drops were "very effective" in Boot and Juniper Canyon areas. 

On 4.15, crews continued to work on securing the fire along the Toll Mountain ridgeline, keeping the developed area safe and defended, and conducting some prep work along the Lost Mine Saddle. The helicopter will be used for a detailed recon of the fire, and bucket drops along the east side as needed. Condition assessment of the various trails and backcountry campsites will also be happening today.  

On 4.16, the hotshot crews will be monitoring, beginning to clear downed trees along trails, and directing bucket drops on the remaining hot spots. There are at least 38 trees down across the trails, with the majority in Boot Canyon. Diablos are working in the Basin area today, reducing fuels and ensuring that it is firesafe. The structural crew remains on duty to prep and protect Basin infrastructure. Resource staff are continuing their assessment and documentation of conditions along trails and around the backcountry campsites.

On 4.17, the cool weather will continue to reduce fire activity. Crews will continue to monitor the fire, and direct bucket drops as necessary along the eastern edge. Effort are beginning to wind down. Some resources will begin to demobilize and depart Big Bend over the next few days. Assessment of the trails and campsites will continue. 

On, 4.17, transition day for the fire from a Type 3 Incident Management Team (IMT) to a Type 4 (IMT) team. This indicates that the fire is decreasing in complexity and fire activity. The two Hotshot Crews will be demobilizing today. The Diablos Crew will stay on scene. The fire will continue to be monitored and bucket drops of water will be used as needed. Rehabilitation will also continue. 
CLOSURE: The Chisos Basin will re-open at 11 a.m., on Friday, April 23rd. 
Follow the park's twitter feed for the latest updates:  

Basic Information

Current as of
Incident TypeWildfire
Date of OriginThursday April 08th, 2021 approx. 01:30 PM
LocationSouth Rim of Chisos Mountains in Big Bend National Park
Incident CommanderDW Ivans
Coordinates29.226 latitude, -103.299 longitude

Current Situation

Total Personnel93
Size1,341 Acres
Percent of Perimeter Contained100%
Fuels Involved

Timber (grass and understory); Short grass (1 foot)

Significant Events

minimal smoldering


Planned Actions

Monitor the fire from the Lost Mine Trail.

Continue to enhance defensible space in the Chisos Basin.

Trail and campsite hazard tree

mitigation with wilderness tools

Support trail repairs

Provide security patrol to the Basin

Projected Incident Activity

Minimal growth potential


No major concerns at this time as weather is cooperating. Additional increase in acreage is from more accurate mapping.

Transition to Type 4 IC on Monday 4/19/2021.

Current Weather

Weather Concerns

Weather conditions for the next three days are favorable for minimal for fire growth.