Fire crews have left the Young County Arena for the last time. They have been using the large complex in Graham as a staging post and home-base for several weeks. Dozens of people lined the streets Wednesday morning to bid the crews adieu.
People gathered with flags and signs to clap and cheer as the crews left. An honor guard from the American Volunteer Reserve 2nd Homeland Security Detachment, 6th Texas Brigade was on-hand waving flags to honor the men and women.
Most people were very appreciative to the fire crews, who came from all over the United States. "Its awesome that these people gave everything they've got to help people they've never met," said Pam Kennedy, who was clapping and waving an American Flag.
Others had more personal reasons for being there. "My niece and their family lost their home and they helped to put it out... They are heroes," said one woman.
Local fire crews crossed the ladders of their trucks for the departing heroes to pass under. School children lined the streets to wave in gratitude.
Kennedy feels there are lessons that can be learned from the service the crew provided "I just think that giving of yourself for other people is the best thing you can ever do in life," she said.
The work is not over for the men and women of the fire service. Parade organizers said they are expected to sleep in the Mineral Wells area as they continue to battle the PK Complex Fire.
The Texas Forest Service said Tuesday night that the PK Complex Fire is currently burning around 126,000 acres. As of that update, it was 80% contained. The big concern is monitoring hotspots. Crews are using aircraft with infrared capabilities to watch the situation.
As reported last week, donations of supplies and materials have all but overwhelmed firefighters. "The sincere thoughtfulness is greatly appreciated. However, our ability to store, distribute, and use the many donations we are receiving is exceeding our capabilities," said Texas Forest Service Official Marq Webb.
If you would like to help the fire crews, the TFS has provided the following information about a fund that has been set up:
Those who want to help are encouraged to donate directly to their local volunteer fire department. Texas Forest Service has established the VFD Emergency Assistance Fund to help volunteer fire departments. You can also make a tax-deductible donation earmarked for a particular department, county or region. All proceeds (100 percent) will be distributed to volunteer fire departments via grants for firefighting expenses. If you would like to donate to this fund or if you have questions about how you can help, email HelpingTexas@tfs.tamu.edu
As operations at the Arena wind-down, operations at local churches are also changing. Knox Bishop, an Elder with Oak Street Baptist Church in Graham says that the help center at that facility has been shut-down. The Church Body is still working to help those affected by the Firestorm Across Texoma, but efforts have been shifted and First Baptist Church is helping coordinate them.