News Release

Castolon Fire Update: Fire Crews Save Structures and Park Facilities

Cottonwood Campground was spared
Cottonwood Campground was spared.

NPS - J. Jurado

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News Release Date: May 24, 2019

Contact: Tom VandenBerg, 432-477-1107

Contact: Jennette Jurado, 432-477-1109

BIG BEND NATIONAL PARK, TX - Fire crews working on the Castolon Fire in Big Bend National Park worked late into the evening on May 23rd to slow the wildland fire and prevent loss to park infrastructure and historic buildings. 

Yesterday, the fire grew to roughly 1200 acres, as afternoon heat rose to 110 degree shade temperature with single digit humidity and gusting winds. In these extreme conditions, Big Bend National Park wildland fire crews including the Los Diablos, with help from the Texas A&M Forest Service wildland fire crews, were able to protect numerous structures. Through their hard work the Cottonwood Campground and amphitheater, a visitor’s vehicle, a dozen structures including park housing and historic buildings, and numerous additional structures such as wells, pumps, and power lines were spared. Concurrently, a Mexican forestry crew across the Rio Grande worked to contain the blaze on the Mexican side. Approximately 400 acres have burned in Mexico. 
“We want to sincerely thank the firefighting crews for the amazing work that they are doing to help contain this fire and avoid further loss,” said acting Superintendent Tom VandenBerg. “The work that these crews are able to do despite the extreme heat and conditions is simply amazing and appreciated.”

The Castolon Fire originated in Mexico on May 21st and jumped the Rio Grande, burning into the park near Castolon on May 22nd. The fire rapidly spread, and embers from the fire landed on the historic barracks building, which housed the Castolon Visitor Center and La Harmonia store. This building and the bathroom building suffered extensive damage. Structural fire crews on scene were able to save six historic buildings including the two Officers Quarters buildings, Magdalena House, Garlick House, Recreation Hall, guard shack, as well as numerous historic features such as the wagon, steam engine, and Morris engines that are on display in the historic district.

Closures remain in effect within the park, including the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive at mile 22, Old Maverick Road, and River Road West from Buenos Aires to Castolon. This includes the Castolon Historic District, Cottonwood Campground, and Santa Elena Canyon areas. These closures are in place for public safety and to allow the fire crews to work as efficiently as possible. 

Big Bend National Park will continue to post regular updates on social media at

Fire Crew in Castolon
Firefighters near the Cottonwood Campground.

Texas A&M Forest Service

Officers Quarters
Burned vegetation surrounds the Officers Quarters in Castolon.


Historic Home in Castolon
Historic home in Castolon survived the fire.

NPS - J. Jurado

The flames came close, but the Alvino House, the oldest intact adobe structure in Big Bend National Park was spared.
The flames came close, but the Alvino House, the oldest intact adobe structure in Big Bend National Park was spared.


Last updated: May 24, 2019

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PO Box 129
Big Bend National Park, TX 79834-0129



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