- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 11, 2014

LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) - A backpacker’s stove ignited a wildfire that scorched about 15 acres and closed Palo Duro Canyon State Park in the Texas Panhandle, officials said Tuesday.

Emergency crews had the fire 95 percent contained by mid-afternoon Tuesday, officials said. Firefighters will remain on the scene throughout Tuesday night to ensure that windy conditions don’t re-ignite it, park superintendent Cory Evans said.

No injuries were reported from the fire that began late Monday afternoon. The park was closed Tuesday for safety reasons. “As long as everything stays steady we’re going to open (the park) up at 8 a.m.,” Evans said.

Evans said the backpacker’s stove used liquid fuel, which is permissible under the burn ban in place because of dry weather. Campfires or the use of fireplaces is prohibited during a ban.

“It was just an accident on his part,” Evans said.

The fire was in a remote area of the park that vehicles with firefighting equipment could not reach. Three crews on foot had worked for many hours overnight and into Tuesday to dig fire lines by hand, Evans said.

Emergency personnel were able to contain the fire even as they faced strong winds. The National Weather Service issued a high wind warning for the area until early Wednesday.

Park official Mark Hassell says about 80 campers departed Monday night from the state park, which is just outside the town of Canyon.

Texas’ spring wildfire season typically runs from February through April, with the risk highest toward the end of that period. The risk for wildfires this year is greatest west of a line extending southwest from Wichita Falls to Del Rio, which includes the Panhandle region where the park is located.

The Texas A&M; Forest Service monitors conditions around the state on a daily basis. Fire warnings come when there’s been little to no rain or precipitation for a week or longer and when fronts with low humidity move in.




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