Community holds party to say 'thanks' to firefighters who battled wildfire in Montgomery, Waller, Grimes counties last month

October 1, 2011 8:31:36 PM PDT
Hundreds of firefighters and emergency crews risked their lives to help save their community from a wildfire. On Saturday, their friends and neighbors said thank you.

Last month, a wildfire ripped through parts of Montgomery, Waller and Grimes Counties. It destroyed dozens of homes and burned more than 19,000 acres. Residents took time out to thank those who helped them in their time of need.

In a community still devastated by disaster, hundreds of neighbors took time to say "thanks" to all those firefighters who tried protecting their homes.

"We just want them to know that we are here, and we love them, and we want to help them," neighbor Gayle Baker said.

These neighbors came close to losing everything as wildfires ripped through Montgomery, Grimes and Waller counties last month. They spent weeks organizing this special party for the emergency workers who spent days battling the flames.

"Everything that we do revolves around them and it makes us feel warm and welcomed that they'd do this stuff like this," said Eric Hoffman with the Magnolia Fire Department.

It's an unexpected sign of gratitude after an unpredictable disaster.

"It got difficult a couple of times," said Johnny Jessie with the Magnolia Fire Department.

As neighbors listen, firefighters share first-hand accounts of the challenges they faced on the front lines. The wildfire destroyed more than 70 homes and buildings, and damaged 23 others.

But these neighbors know the hard-working crews were able to spare so many more homes.

"It really chokes us up. We do this because we want to do it. We know it has to be done. There's not enough money to have paid firefighters out here. So, a lot of us have been doing it for two or three decades, and for the community to do something like this for us, it's just amazing," said Robert Young with the Tri-County Fire Department.

And it's amazing how these neighbors say a fiery disaster has helped bring the tri-county community together.

"You always hear about something good coming out of something so bad, and this is a perfect example of it," neighbor Karl Grossman said.

Firefighters say about 95 percent of the crew that helped put out the tri-county wildfire were volunteers. They encourage anyone interested in becoming a volunteer firefighter to call your local fire department.

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