Jack County Recovering After Fire Storm - Newschannel 6 Now | Wichita Falls, TX

Jack County Recovering After Fire Storm

Jack County is getting back to normal. For the past 3 days, crews have been battling a massive fire storm. However, now that the smoke has cleared, things are not as dismal as once thought.  Instead of the count of 6 homes destroyed, as officials originally reported, only 1 family lost their home. A vacant home was also lost to the blaze and another home was partially damaged.

Now, the task for crews is to recuperate. The intense fire fight drained firefighters physically as well as financially. "An incident like this creates a sudden and deep drain on resources and assets that the volunteers have. It takes a lot out of their time; it takes them away from their families and digs into their banks accounts," said Jack County Judge Hon. Mitchell Davenport.

Davenport said some of the costs for the large operation will be covered by FEMA. Still, the departments work on donations. He said many of them will be working to raise funds to get coffers full again.

While the last 3 days have been harrowing, the job is still not finished. Crews from the Texas Forestry service used a helicopter Monday to assess damage and check for hot spots. That task is still not over. "Most people don't realize it but just because everybody pulls out the fire is still there. You're going to have trees that are still smoldering, and they are still a threat so somebody has to keep an eye on them," explained Davenport.

Aside from the fire departments, many ranchers and producers are in a tough spot. Dozens of bales of hay were lost to the flames that also ravaged pastures. Livestock owners are left to provide hay for animals to eat. That costs money in several ways. One agricultural worker explained he had to drive bales in one at a time. With fuel costs on an up-tick, it adds to the burden. Beside the charred remains of a field along US 380, hay bales were advertised for sale.

While it is not easy to miss the fire's impact, one thing is clear; many homes were saved, just in the nick of time. Along US 380 a number of ranch homes lost their entire lawns Burn marks stopped within feet of the houses. The black, dusty land serves as a reminder of Friday's terror.

Davenport says many more homes would have been lost had it not been for a massive mutual aid response. "It was a great blessing. We used the resources we have but fire was so big and so fast that we needed help and it was a great relief to have that help come," said Davenport. Trucks from as far away as the Metroplex raced to help fight the blaze.

Paul Harrop, Newschannel 6

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