A battle raged in the backcountry of Western Texas last week.
On one side: 35 volunteer firefighters from Brewster County.
On the other: two wildfires, each more than 100 square miles wide and capable of traveling at a rate of one football field per minute when the wind whips up.
The grass of Brewster County, a vast, mountainous region that juts into Mexico, was yellowed and dried up from a seven-month-long drought that meteorologists call the worst in history. The fields provided ample fuel for the flames, and at one point, the fire approached the edge of a residential district, threatening 60 homes.
“It’s been terrible; it’s been horrible,” said Tom Santry, coordinator for emergency management services in Brewster Country. “The grass is extremely dry. We’ve had fires one after the other.”
Finally, the Texas Forest Service stepped in, and by Tuesday the agency had contained 90 percent of the fires. Around the flames that continue to burn, miles upon miles of grazing and grassland lie scorched.