It was one year ago Sunday when Texoma saw devastating wildfires scorch homes and land. All the elements needed to fuel a fire came together on April 15, 2011. It resulted in the loss of more than 40 homes and structures and millions in damages.
Powerful images Newschannel 6 shot showed the destruction of what a grassfire can do. A fire off Pecanway Drive resulted in the loss of several homes, another located in Jolly left smoke billowing in the air scorching thousands of acres and another off Lucky Lane and Tinker Trail left memories of a day of devastation.
"I remember the whole neighborhood was covered in smoke and soot," said Captain Chris Duncan with the Wichita Falls Fire Department.
"We knew we had a bad situation," said Firefighter Derek Bachman.
In the late afternoon hours of April 15, 2011 both firefighters were on duty working different calls when they were called to Lucky Lane.
"We could see the dark smoke so we just started heading that way because we knew the way the conditions were that day. We would have to get on it quick," said Captain Duncan.
With little visibility and gusty winds firefighters did what they could to tame the flames and save homes, but it wasn't enough. A total of three homes were lost, five sustained major damage and two were slightly ruined. While those vivid memories are still in their minds the other images like the kind acts of strangers still resonate with them.
"The neighbors would come out and bring you bottled water," said Captain Duncan. The airman that were off duty that day the just stopped and helped us drag hose."
"Days and weeks afterward they would come up to us and say 'Thank you. You saved our house you saved our property,'" said Bachman.
The Wichita Falls Fire Department would later go on to create a task force specifically trained to fight wildfires. The team of a dozen men have specialty training and specific uniforms.