Storm Events Database

Event Details

Event Wildfire
County/Area BROOKS
Report Source Emergency Manager
NCDC Data Source CSV
Begin Date 2011-06-18 09:00:00.0 CST-6
End Date 2011-06-22 09:30:00.0 CST-6
Deaths Direct/Indirect 0/0 (fatality details below, when available...)
Injuries Direct/Indirect 0/0
Property Damage 250.00K
Crop Damage 5.00K
Episode Narrative The combination of exceptional drought, very hot temperatures, afternoon humidity falling to near 25 percent, sustained 20 foot winds of 15 to 20 mph with frequent gusts between 25 and 35 mph, and most likely sparks from ranch equipment resulted in the conflagration that many feared as the record (water year since October 1st 2010) hot and dry weather worsened - and peaked - by mid June.
A massive wildfire enveloped several large ranches in northwestern Brooks County, eventually consuming at least 32,000 acres over a four day period (beginning June 18th) before some welcome moderate rain allowed a large firefighting force to contain, and control, the blaze by June 23rd. The wildfire, known as the Smac Ranch Fire, was larger than the massive Encinitos/Burns Ranch Fire of March 2008, which burned more than 25,000 acres.
Damage was limited to a number of deer hunting buildings and at least one cow and one deer.
Event Narrative Sparks from a hot catalytic converter on a ranch vehicle most likely set rangeland ablaze in Northwest Brooks County (about 13 miles west-southwest of Falfurrias), beginning at around 10 AM on June 18th. In rapid succession, the fire, driven by near record hot temperatures, humidity near 25 percent, highly cured fine and coarse fuels, and frequent wind gusts near or above 30 mph day and night, spread to 3300 acres by late afternoon on the 18th, 8000 acres by mid evening, and more than 10,000 acres before midnight on the 19th. The fire exceeded 12,000 acres early on the 19th, and continued to grow despite some successful containment efforts. By June 20th, the acreage had reached 22,500, placing it only behind the Encinitos/Burns Ranch event of March 18, 2008, in recent years. Unofficial reports early on June 21st indicated an estimated 30,000 acres had burned in Brooks County, with the fire having neared State Highway 285, the main thoroughfare between the King Ranch and the Rio Grande Plains in Deep South Texas. At times during the event, heavy smoke forced the closure of the highway.
By mid morning June 22nd, the fire had peaked at 32,000 acres, and was 100 percent contained after light to moderate rains and lighter winds arrived. Texas Forest Service personnel noted that the steady increase in acreage through the 21st was due to continued dry and breezy daytime conditions, but also to the firestorm environment, which kept humidity low through the night due to the localized heating and additional wind generated by the blaze.
By June 21st, the blaze had burned down several unoccupied deer hunting camp buildings, including houses, lean-tos, and outbuildings, on or near Rancho de los Jefes, and had moved into extreme southeastern Duval County and was within a couple of miles of the Jim Hogg County line. The largest ranch affected was the SMAC Ranch; the Palo Blanco Ranch also burned. Rapid response by up to 30 fire departments from the Lower Rio Grande Valley to the Coastal Bend, along with assistance from the Texas Forest Service and state level emergency management personnel, helped save at least 20 threatened homes on the 18th and 19th. Texas Department of Public Safety Aircraft located and evacuated a family of four trapped inside a threatened home. At least 300 first responders, from the Rio Grande Valley to the Coastal Bend, were able to contain and control the massive blaze on the 22nd and 23rd, as cloud cover, lighter winds, higher humidity, and light to moderate rains arrived.
Three partially burned bodies were discovered by the firefighting force during containment efforts. The bodies were in various states of decomposition when they were found, suggesting that the persons had died well before the wildfires arrived. Causes for the deaths were unknown and likely were from a combination of lack of food/water and heat.


All events for this episode:

Location County/Zone St. Date Time T.Z. Type Mag Dth Inj PrD CrD
Totals: 0 0 250.00K 5.00K
BROOKS (ZONE) BROOKS (ZONE) TX 06/18/2011 09:00 CST-6 Wildfire 0 0 250.00K 5.00K
Totals: 0 0 250.00K 5.00K