Governor Abbott Issues Disaster Declaration, Provides Update On State’s Response To Wildfire Activity In Texas

March 18, 2022 | Austin, Texas | Press Release

Governor Greg Abbott today issued a disaster declaration for 11 Texas counties in response to wildfire activity throughout several communities. The Governor also received a briefing today from local and state officials in Eastland on wildfire activity and response efforts. Governor Abbott held a press conference after the briefing at the Eastland Fire Department where he was joined by the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) Chief Nim Kidd, Representative Glenn Rogers, and local officials.

The Governor also ordered flags to be lowered to half-staff in Eastland County in honor of Deputy Barbara Fenley, who lost her life while trying to save others from the fires. Additionally, Governor Abbott has waived vehicle size, weight, and permitting requirements to ensure farmers and ranchers can get hay and feed to their livestock and other supplies can get to those who need it most.

"The State of Texas is working alongside local officials to respond to these critical fire conditions throughout several Texas counties," said Governor Abbott. "I commend the hard work and selfless acts of thousands of first responders and fire fighters who are risking their own lives to protect our communities. I also ask Texans to join me in praying for those who have been affected by these wildfires, including Eastland County Deputy Barbara Fenley who was tragically killed while trying to save lives. We will never forget her sacrifice, and the state will continue to work closely with first responders and local leaders to mitigate these fires and support our communities as they recover." 

Texans affected by these fires can seek shelter at First Baptist of Eastland (405 S Seaman St in Eastland), First Fruit Christian Fellowship (325 W Lexington, Gorman) Myrtle Wilks Community Center (1498 I-20 Frontage, Cisco) and Gorman Community Center (118 S Kent St, Gorman). Additionally, volunteer organizations are stationed at Siebert Elementary (100 Little Maverick Trail, Eastland). Hay and feed, as well as a temporary animal shelter, are available at the Texas Cattle Exchange (9009 I-20, Eastland).

There are several areas of Eastland County and surrounding communities that have been impacted by multiple fires over the past several days. The Texas A&M Forest Service stated that some Eastland County residents have lost their homes, and some historic buildings like a church in Ranger were destroyed by these fires.

Earlier this week, Governor Abbott directed TDEM to activate the State Emergency Operations Center (SOC) and increase resources to respond to elevated and critical risks for wildfires in Texas, including central and southern sectors.

According to the National Weather Service, western and central Texas remain under an elevated fire risk due to high winds, low humidly, and drought conditions. Texans are encouraged to remain weather-aware and practice wildfire safety, particularly in areas where burn bans are active, to keep their communities safe.

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