Gregeory Simmons, 51, a veteran firefighter, was killed fighting a wildfire yesterday near the town of Gorman, according to Reuters this morning. Simmons had been a firefighter for twenty years for the town of Eastland. Eastland’s mayor said in a written statement, “To say we are shocked and saddened by this huge tragedy is an understatement.”
Though Simmons’ is the first death from the wildfires this season, another firefighter is in critical condition in a hospital in Lubbock after sustaining injuries while fighting a fire in the panhandle. Please let your thoughts and prayers be with the families of these two men and with all of the firefighters who are risking their lives to control these terrible fires.
At least nine fires are burning right now and firefighters are being hampered by strong winds, low humidity, and extreme dryness. Texas has experienced the dryest March on record, and there is no rain in the immediate forecast.
Yesterday, fire sparked by lightning pushed toward the west Texas city of San Angelo, forcing the evacuation of citizens of its northern suburbs when flames got within five miles of the city. San Angelo has a population of about 80,000.
Officials are warning residents who live in rural areas to move the propane tanks away from their homes and to clear any brush around their residences.