How the Disaster Declaration helps Wichita County after fires

Local News

WICHITA COUNTY (KFDX/KJTL) — We saw the fires in Electra begin last week and not get 100% contained until a couple days later, and from on the ground battling, to behind the scenes, to officials around the county worked to do what they could to help.

Right when Wichita County Sheriff David Duke got the call from Electra Volunteer Fire Department Chief Greg Lynn, he knew they had to act.

“I’ve known him a long time, he’s a great fire chief, and he said they need help and we wanted to get everyone we could out there because I knew how bad it was,” Duke said.

Duke had sheriff’s deputies assisting any way they could. Directing traffic and people to safety, but also acted quickly behind the scenes, then called Judge Woody Gossom to relay the severity of the flames.

“Often people get down into a disaster and the times lapped, resources have been used, and that declaration hasn’t been written,” Gossom said.

So, the county acted as well with Judge Gossom and others working to get that disaster declaration out as early as possible. Mainly due to federal funding needing to be applied for while the fire is still burning, and with a disaster declaration already in place.

“Our order coming into place offers us that umbrella for all other agencies to come in so hopefully now they will give us the details of what they did and what resources they committed then we can seek reimbursement for them,” Gossom said.

Which is vital to departments in Texoma, most of which are comprised of dedicated volunteers.

“These guys aren’t getting anything for doing this. They’re just wanting to commit themselves to working for the community,” Duke said. “And having the right training, the right equipment and the right funding is very important to anybody who is paid or a volunteer firefighter to do their job.”

From Electra to Punkin Center, Iowa Park, Burkburnett, Wichita Falls, and more, agencies across Wichita County answered the call.

“And the bravery that takes place for them to do that, I know you got to have it,” Duke said. “You know everyone’s got that analogy about firemen and cops, you all are crazy running into danger and we’re getting away from it, but the thing is that’s what our sense of duty is and that’s what we do.”

In the end, more than 2,300 acres burned, one structure was a total loss, but they prevented it from jumping from house to house.

And more importantly no deaths, something Judge Gossom says Chief Lynn and his crew had a lot to do with.

“You can’t beat all his institutional knowledge, his common sense at attacking a problem, and for the members of his departments, faith and trust in him produces the type of positive result that we had,” Gossom said.

A disaster situation, but still showing the resilience of departments around Texoma.

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