MINERAL WELLS — In what looked like it could have been a repeat of the 2011 fires in Palo Pinto County, two major fires erupted in early August – one on the Rhodes Ranch and one on Dark Valley Ranch – creating the Rhodes Ranch Complex Fire. Both fires were ignited by lightning.
The Rhodes Ranch fire, which started on a plateau west of Mineral Wells and the Brazos River, burned 1,995 acres and headed down a bluff towards Dog Bend of the Brazos and branched southward, toward U.S. Highway 180 West and the Brazos Heights and Brazos West subdivisions.
The Dark Valley Ranch Fire, located on State Highway 254, between its intersections with Farm-to-Market Road 4 and State Highway 16, burned 1,745 acres. This fire was near areas that burned during the April 2011 PK Complex Fires.
To help local and regional fire departments and apparatus fight the wildland fires, the Texas Forest Service brought in two Texas Intrastate Fire Mutual Aid System strike teams, which each included five state-owned engines from different career fire departments.
In addition to fire apparatus, the state dispatched eight dozers, five tractor plows and two Chinook and two Black Hawk helicopters to aid the efforts to contain the blazes in extremely rugged and, in the case of the Rhodes Ranch, remote terrain.
Fueled by drought-stressed Mesquite, Juniper and brush, according to the TFS, the pair of fires were contained in about 10 days. In the end, some rain helped extinguish the fires. State crews turned the fire on the Rhodes Ranch over to local authorities on Aug. 18. This blaze burned.