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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Outbreak (04/07/11)

TITLE: Outbreak of Fire
By Jody Day


It is so dry that wild animals have been coming into town looking for water. A flock of wild turkeys walked right down Main Street in Fort Stockton, Texas. Some friends of mine saw a wildcat prowling in the park when they were doing their morning walk. Everyone that comes close to me gets an electric shock. We are guzzling water and practically bathing in body lotion. These inconveniences are nothing compared to the plight of the ranchers and farmers. The counties in West Texas have been under a burn ban for months. It is well known; we are dry and we need rain. We pray for it regularly. Now every breath is a prayer.

It started with a cigarette, carelessly and criminally tossed into the brush, in a land that hasn’t had rain for ten months. Sixty miles west of us, the town of Fort Davis spent the weekend ablaze. Sixty homes and buildings is not enough for the fire yet. Over a hundred thousand acres is not enough. Still the fire spreads from mountains to plains, from county to county. Thirty-five to forty mile-an-hour winds spur the fires on. Three fire divisions are still watching the northwest flank of the blaze. Officials say they are mainly concerned with the fire burning on the northeast side of the outbreak, called Hell's Canyon, where the turning winds could potentially do the most damage.

The News crews report on this 24/7. They show the lines of fire, the billowing smoke, the helicopters dumping. They do not show the dead horses, cattle, and ground critters. Fence lines were cut everywhere to give the animals freedom, but too many did not escape. The citizens are without gas, water, and electricity.

I could smell the smoke yesterday in Fort Stockton, the wind is coming from the direction of the fire. We hear of fires to the north, south, and east of us as well. We seem to be surrounded by the flames. Every time the fire alarm sounds, we wonder if it is fast approaching our community.

Texas is a strong state, and full of people of faith. As soon as the danger was reported, Texans sprang into action with water, food, and shelter. Governor Perry toured the area and declared many counties a disaster area, making them eligible for help. Our church members are acquainted with a woman who owns a Bed and Breakfast in Fort Davis. We got word that she was housing people who had lost everything. After church we spent the afternoon gathering water, food, and anything else that might help firefighters and victims as well. Two volunteers loaded up their vehicles and headed west. An excursion that should have lasted three hours took more than eight. They were turned around three times and detoured multiple times but they made it up the mountain to the B & B and delivered the supplies. They actually saw fire jump from one side of the highway to the other. We received an email from the owner saying she had been able to help firefighters from Terlingua, her guests, and “meals on wheels” to shut-ins as well. Our efforts were the same as many other churches, communities, and individuals. The side of one truck expressed our feelings: “Serving Jesus through Serving Others.”

We pray it will be over soon. Fort Davis and surrounding areas will mourn the loss of homes, historical landmarks, and livestock. They will rejoice that no human life was lost and express profound gratitude to all the firefighters and helpers who came from all over Texas, and out of state as well. Then they will begin the road to recovery with the help of God and their neighbors. Schools have reopened for four hours a day. The Senior Prom scheduled for this Saturday will take place as planned. The highways are all open again as of today. There is no rain in the forecast, but as of this righting on Wednesday afternoon; it is overcast with dark clouds. We will have faith.

There will be Grace to forgive the thoughtless act of the smoker who is alleged to have started this devastation. The weight of this tragic ruination will no doubt send him to his knees. Perpetrator, victim, and supporters will all call on the Name of the Lord.

“Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will again bring me up. Psalm 71:20

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Member Comments
Member Date
Joe Moreland04/16/11
As a fellow Texan, I have been following the Rockhouse Fire closely. I don't have the firsthand view of you, but now I feel I do. More than any article I've read in the past week on this disaster, you have brought home the devastation and the heart of those fighting against it. Thank you.
Linda Goergen04/17/11
Yes, a very descriptive behind the headlines look! Like a window to the tragedy, that has let us see and feel through your words.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 04/19/11
You did an excellent job, not just covering the news of the fire but by showing the reader the devastation andI could feel the pain and fear in the narrators voice. well done
Noel Mitaxa 04/20/11
I resonate with your descriptions, as our southern Australian summers also carry huge fire danger. We also have the maniacs who deliberately light fires but, like your B and B lady, we also have the quiet heroes who express God's grace in so many thoughtful and generous ways.