EASTLAND COUNTY, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Governor Greg Abbott spoke at an Eastland fire station Friday evening, while the Eastland Complex fires and other surround fires are ongoing. The Texas governor signed a proclamation, declaring the event a disaster.
Gov. Abbott touched on the death of Sheriff Deputy Barbara Fenley, who lost her life while helping residents get to safety. He presented a flag to Anna Olivera, family of Sheriff Deputy Fenley.
At least 50 homes have been lost across Eastland, Comanche and Brown counties, with more expected to be identified as ‘lost.’
The governor made his third point at Friday’s press conference to declare the Eastland Complex fires a disaster:
“I am signing a state proclamation, making it a disaster declaration to assist all the local counties that are currently affected, as well as additional counties that may be added. In this declaration that I’m about to sign, it includes 11 counties.”
The 11 counties included in the disaster declaration are as follows:
“Based upon what happens with the fires, we may need to add to that,” Governor Abbott warned. “Which we will do, if other counties are affected.”
In Gov. Abbott’s next point, he included that containment is the top priority.
Fire containment efforts, according to Gov. Abbott, include; digging areas to provide a level of “fire break,” and aircrafts to drop fire retardant or water. Aircraft assistance was not possible early on in Thursday’s fire danger, due to strong winds.
Before Gov. Abbott listed out available shelter options to those displaced by the fires, he mentioned an anthem for Texas:
“One thing that we see happen in Texas, whenever challenges like this arise, is that Texans come together, and respond together, and help each other.”
Shelters open and available:
- First Baptist Church, in Eastland
- River Life Church, in Eastland
- Myrtle Wilkes Community Center, in Cisco
- Gorman Community Center, in Cisco
For those who wish to volunteer or donate, organizations like the Red Cross are set up to assist those in need at Siebert Elementary School in Eastland.
With enhanced fire danger in rural areas, farm and ranch animals are also in danger.
For hay, feed and other help with animals, Cattle Exchange in Olden is available.
Judge Rex Fields, County Judge for Eastland, whose term comes to an end on New Year’s Eve of 2022, said the devastation was amazing.
“The area between Carbon and Gorman looks like it did when I was a kid. It’s just all… Peanut land! The vegetation’s gone, It looks like some kind of lunar landscape… It’s just an amazing amount of devastation.”
Eastland Fire Chief Joe Williamson warned all across the Big Country to be smart and safe while outdoors.
“One message that I would like to exaggerate and express; is that we are not out of danger yet…” Chief Williamson expressed. “So, we just ask that the community take real, sincere caution in their outdoor activities, and practice fire safety. Help us help you.”
KTAB/KRBC reporter, Noah McKinney, attended the press conference in person:
Governor Greg Abbott rounded out the press conference in Eastland by accepting questions from those in attendance, and said additional recognition will be put forth at a more appropriate time, in regards to Sheriff Deputy Barbara Fenley.