texas wildfires

As the Number of Wildfires Grows Across Texas, so Does the Volunteer Effort to Help

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In the days immediately after the Big L fire scorched 80% of her family's ranch, Amy Houston leaned on the community for help.

"There were six homes that were burned on my road and other ranchers who all got feed for their animals, supplies to rebuild fences," Houston said. "A lot of emergency needs that people needed just to be able to get up and run their day-to-day operations. And so I can say that without their support, without their connections, without their help, a lot of us would not be up and running today."

It is support that came from a group of volunteers formed just days before, when flames devastated communities in Eastland County.

“There was a Facebook page that was created to kind of gather people who were wanting to donate resources,” said Morgan Broome.

Soon, Broome said it evolved into a movement.

"It kind of just took off from there,” she said.

Coined Rancher Navy, the group of volunteers has been buoyed by support from just about every corner of the state. In the wake of her own tragedy, Houston joined the cause to help collect supplies for volunteer fire departments.

“A lot of different places have stepped up and donated water and Liquid IV and baby wipes, just all the necessary supplies that these volunteer firemen and women need,” said Houston.

Especially as they have fought a seemingly endless number of wildfires this year.

Earlier this month, the Texas A&M Forest Service reported more than 1,100 wildfires have burned in 2022, putting Texas on track for its worst fire season in more than a decade.

“If you look at the maps and look at the wildfires that we have currently, it's a really heartbreaking situation. But I can say that, as you know, the scale of the disaster is as big as the state of Texas, but so has the response been from the community,” said Broome.

Since March, Rancher Navy estimates its donated 43,000 bales of hay, 700 tons of feed and helped more than 450 families.

“I hope someday that we don't have this need. But currently, that's what our need is, and that is what we are going to do. We are going to wake up every morning and fulfill as much of those needs as we can,” said Houston.

For now, Rancher Navy said its relief efforts have been focused in the north central part of the state, but volunteers are ready to help anywhere in Texas where they're needed.

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