Crews Battle Rough Terrain In Marathon Fires

by Kristen Lowe
NewsWest 9

MARATHON - Rough terrain is making it difficult for crews battling two fires near Marathon.

The Texas Forest Service tells NewsWest 9, the canyons are creating a chimney effect on the blaze. When the smoke gets in them, the flames spread further uphill, faster than they normally would.

Both the Iron Mountain and Schwartz fires have sent large amounts of smoke into Marathon. Residents say they're worried; Friday was the smokiest day yet.

"We're worried because we can see the smoke and the flames are close, sometimes only ten miles away," Marathon resident Gerald Belshy, said. "The firefighters are camping out, sleeping on the ground. We've opened up the high school so they can have a bathroom and water."

Several crews from other states have been called in to help fight the fires. The Schwartz fire has burned more than 73,000 acres. The Iron Mountain fire has burned more than 82,000.

"The flames are on top of the rocks and on the mountains, where we can't get to them," Marathon Emergency Management's, D.L. Wilkerson, said. "So we've been using planes and air tankers to put it out."