Wichita Falls fire department helps save town in panhandle

Wichita Falls fire department helps save town in panhandle
Panhandle Fire
Panhandle Fire

WICHITA FALLS, TX (KAUZ) - Firefighters from Wichita Falls and Vernon are helping fight wildfires in the Texas panhandle.
The area is feeling the effects of the fires.
They have seen over one million acres burn and at least seven deaths.
That is why the Texas Intrastate Fire Mutual Aid System, also known as T.I.F.M.A.S., exists.
If a fire becomes big enough, firefighters from across the state are called.
When wildfires occur, volunteer fire departments typically respond first.
If they need help, they have groups, like the Texas Forest Service and T.I.F.M.A.S., to call for reinforcements.
Fire departments help each other to save lives.
It is why nine Wichita Falls firefighters and two squad leaders are there to help.
"I think they have a great sense of pride in being able to go out and help fellow Texans," Jon Reese, the Wichita Falls Fire Chief said.
How important is the help?
"This is a devastating disaster that has happened up there," Chief Reese said "And our guys, on the last deployment, were directly involved in saving 40 to 70 homes in the town of Tulia."
Chief Reese said his firefighters helped save nearly all of Tulia, south of Amarillo.
They recently received a letter from a family that said: 
    "My parents were blessed with help all the way from Wichita Falls! Thanks guys for all you do! Coming all the way from Tulia, Texas."
"We did lose a few structures, but we helped save most of the town of Tulia," Chief Reese said.
He adds that he is proud to lead such a great department.
"It would be one thing if you were out on a fire that you didn't do anything other than just put some fire out and then go home," Chief Reese said "When you get to go out there and truly make a difference and save people's livelihood, their homes, their livestock, it's just the icing on the cake."
Chief Reese said they went to the panhandle two weeks ago for eight days.
After coming back for a couple days, they are back out for a second deployment.
Chief Reese told us, despite the tough conditions, the firefighters are holding up great.
He added that these types of fires deplete the volunteer fire departments and we all should help support them.

Copyright 2017 KAUZ News All Rights Reserved