Texas wildfires tough on volunteers

Texas wildfires tough on volunteers

26 April 2011

published by www.upi.com

USA — The Texas wildfires this spring have been brutal for volunteer firefighters who worked through the Easter season, sometimes on top of regular jobs.

Two firefighters lost their lives, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported. Others have lost sleep and time with their families.

Members of the Graford Rural Volunteer Fire Department spent Easter Sunday putting out hot spots around the town, which had been affected by the Possum Kingdom Lake fire.

“We basically canceled Easter,” Lt. Diane Burns said Monday. “The church across the street is going to let us use the grass to have a delayed Easter for the firefighters’ children. We can’t catch a break.”

The season also has been hard on equipment and budgets. In Graford, three of eight trucks were unusable by Monday because of what they were put through last week. Burns said the department’s annual $26,000 budget will probably be used up repairing them.

Both deaths occurred last week. Greg Simmons, 50, a volunteer in Eastland, was run over by a vehicle in heavy smoke, while Elias Jaquez, 49, of Cactus in the Texas Panhandle, was fatally burned when he fell.

Many volunteers have a grueling schedule. Kevin West, an English teacher at Strawn High School, has been out on the fire lines into the small hours. He finally got an evening off and took his wife out to dinner.

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