AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) – On April 4, 2023, a grassfire erupted in Potter County near a helium plant that would burn across five days. By the time the Texas A&M Forest Service reported that the “Bent Willow” Fire was completely contained, it had burned an estimated 8,118 acres of land and had caused the temporary evacuation of around 40 people and 30 animals.

As noted by the Texas A&M Forest Service the day previous, above-normal temperatures, low humidity, dry fuel, and strong winds had the potential for extreme fire conditions capable of creating large fires across the High Plains. During that week, the region experienced the Bent Willow Fire as well as others in close proximity.

Below is a timeline of the fire’s progression, including published stories and aired coverage from both and KAMR Local 4 News, from April 4 through April 8.

Tuesday, April 4

At around 4 p.m. on April 4, officials from Potter County Fire Rescue reported that a grassfire had broken out near a helium plant in northwest Potter County, which was moving northward with “heavy fuel.” By 5 p.m., the fire had jumped from 50 acres to 250.

By 5:40 p.m., officials recommended that residents from the Park Circle North neighborhood evacuate. Travel was also impacted on HW 287 due to the fire, and BNSF trains were halted on the tracks.

Also on Tuesday afternoon, northeast of Potter County, the “Czar” Fire erupted in the area of Borger, resulting in evacuations in the area of Beverly Hills and detouring Highway 136 north of the town.

Wednesday, April 5

On Wednesday, by 9 a.m. the TFS reported that crews had spent the night securing areas of the fire, taking advantage of the somewhat decreased winds, but that the then-named Bent Willow Fire had still grown to 8,000 acres.

Officials from the Amarillo area Office of Emergency Management released further details on the Tuesday evening evacuations, during which people impacted took shelter in the Chaparral Hills Baptist Church and the River Road High School Gym.

By 5 p.m. on Wednesday, the TFS reported that crews had completed the containment lines around the fire and would continue to patrol the area, considering the fire 55% contained.

Thursday, April 6

By Thursday morning, the TFS reported that the Bent Willow Fire had remained steady at around 8,000 acres covered, and was 75% contained. Crews were reported to be focused on mopping up operations across the area and continuing to check for heat near the established containment lines.

Friday, April 7

Overnight and into Friday morning, the TFS reported that the Bent Willow Fire had expanded to cover 8,118 acres, though was estimated to be 85% contained. Crews had worked to expand containment lines and observed “minimal smoke” from vegetation from the air.

Saturday, April 8

On Saturday, another fire sparked near the Potter and Carson County lines in the area of the Rick Husband Amarillo International Airport. The “Zanzibar” Fire was contained over the course of a few hours of the afternoon, having covered 353 acres.

Meanwhile, TFS reported that crews had continued the slow struggle against the Bent Willow Fire, and it was considered 100% contained after impacting 8,118 acres of land by around 6:30 p.m.

For the latest Amarillo news and regional updates, check with and tune in to KAMR Local 4 News at 5:00, 6:00, and 10:00 p.m. and Fox 14 News at 9:00 p.m. CST.