Issues Facing Your Town: The Heart of Ringgold

When you hear the town of Ringgold many can't help but think of New Years Day 2006, when a fire storm ripped through the town of 100 and left behind pure destruction.

Half of the town was wiped out, gone in a flash on a day that should have been one full of hope for the new year.

Newschannel 6 looked into the issues facing the town of Ringgold now and found quite a story.

January 1, 2006, Volunteer Firefighter Johnny Reynolds was trying to save his home, and barely escaped with his life.

"We stayed so long and fought as long as we could and the flames caught us before we could get out and the flames went over the fire truck. The flames could go faster than the truck could." said Johnny Reynolds.

Fire burned Reynold's arms, hands and ears. Years later as we face a new extreme fire season, Johnny is back on the job. He immediately went back to fighting flames as soon as he recovered.

Because of what happened in 2006, some might say the Ringgold Volunteer Fire Department is the heart of the town.

"If we weren't here it would take at least 15 minutes for another department to get here. We have 4 trucks here and it may take us a while to get it going but when fires get bad we can run 4 trucks." said Ringgold VFD Chief Jack Simpson.

And that's thanks to a lot of hard work and a handful of generous residents.

Spend anytime in Ringgold and it doesn't take long to figure out that the 14 men and women that make up the department are the true town heroes.

As we've seen in so many other places across Texoma, being a part a small volunteer fire department is a challenge.

Money is always tight, and they rely on donations and grants alone. Plus when there is extreme fire danger some of these men and women often pull lengthy even double shifts.

The fire station is also more than 70 years old, which has created some safety issues. But that is about to change. When one resident from the Fenoglio family heard about the need for a new fire station he donated his land on U.S. Highway 81 for a new department.

Larry Fenologio, is the donators son and he said his father and mother like all of Ringgold's residents, were touched by the destruction of 2006.

It's an empty lot now, but the donated land was his parents home, and also the place Larry grew up. All gone in a flash from the New Years Day flames.

But the hardships for Larry continue. He is not only a volunteer firefighter but also a farmer and rancher, and the severe drought and extreme fire danger has made this a really tough year for farmers. But the heart of this town is stronger than ever.

"Like they said after the fire, to recover you just got to take it one day at a time. There is so much to do that if you think about all I have to do it overwhelms you." said Larry Fenoglio.

Firefighters hope to have the new station up by this Fall and are planning a fundraiser to continue raising money.

They are doing the work themselves so they say donations don't have to be just monetary.