Wildfires Destroy the Panhandle 

Courtesy Photo from Texas A&M Forest Service

By Anna Monroe 

Wildfires have spread across Texas, burning through 850,000 acres of land and forcing people to evacuate from their homes. Towns of Canadian, Miami, Borger and Fritch have been damaged. With one confirmed death caused by the fires, more and more families are getting worried.  

Students of Amarillo College are being affected as well, some not even able to help them. “My grandma and mom are down there and had to evacuate as soon as possible, and because they’ve shut down the roads, they couldn’t leave Borger,” Luther Estridge, a mass communications major, said. “I know a lot of my high school friends’ houses are gone. I do hope everyone was able to get out.”

As the second largest fire in Texas history, first responders all over the state are trying their hardest to combat it. “Some of these fires are burning almost unimpeded due to these conditions. The large majority of the departments fighting these fires are volunteer departments,” Stephen Malley, AC Fire Academy coordinator, said. “These departments are typically underfunded, understaffed and utilizing equipment that is not optimal. Yet, they are out in front of these fires and doing everything they can. They are doing this with little concern for their jobs, families and on many occasions their personal safety.”

First responders are undergoing heat from the public as the fires carry through. “Unfortunately everyone is an expert on what a fire department should have done from the safety of their computer,” Malley said. “There is always a chance mistakes can be made as many decisions are required to be quickly made with limited information.”

The first responders said they are always looking for help, from medics to mechanics. “Items such as fuel for fire apparatus, tires for equipment, maintenance and replacement equipment are all things that are ongoing expenses for fire departments,” Malley said. “Your monetary donation could go a long way to helping out your local fire department.” 

Officials say people who are near these towns should pack a to-go bag and be ready to be evacuated. Stay away from these areas and watch the news for any updates. Fire and law enforcements can provide additional information in case of emergencies. 

Donations such as water, Gatorade, baby wipes, diapers, formula, hygiene products, non perishable food items and clothes, can be found in many locations across Amarillo. Donation drop offs include the Potter County office, HF&C Feeds, the Amarillo Fire Department, HotWorx and The Beatnik

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