BRAZOS COUNTY, Texas — Here in Texas, we’re used to the sun kissing the world goodnight and leaving behind a glow of red, orange, pink, and yellow skies; a stroke of watercolors on an otherwise blank canvas.
However, for many small Texas towns, the usually pleasant paintings are depicting a much different picture.
“Fire season has been critical this year,” said Katelynn Raynes, a resource specialist 1 with the Texas A&M Forest Service.
The sun rays are replaced with flames and smoke in a wildfire season that’s proved to be more active than regular years.
Most of Texas remains in a drought.
Couple that with high winds and it’s a recipe for disaster, causing devastation, displacing families, and killing wildlife.
“If you’re out of your home, I suggest you stay where you’re at, for now,” said a fire official working the Crittenberg Complex Fire in Coryell County.
Katelynn Raynes knows what it's like to be face-to-face with natural disasters, explaining that her family home was destroyed by the tornado that hit Rowlett, TX the day after Christmas in 2015.
She also explained that three years prior, she witnessed her friends and family lose homes during the Little Bear Fire, one of the most destructive fires in New Mexico’s history.
“It just did such devastating damage to the area,” she said.
After witnessing such life-changing events, she got involved and began helping first responders.
Raynes remembers this passion as little as 10 years old.
“While they may not remember my face or my name, though, remember that I was there,” she said. “If I can walk away knowing that I did everything that I could to try and help them, I feel like I've done my job.”