In-Depth: Small town gone in fire & deputy remembered

Texas fires damage thousands of acres.
Posted at 11:39 AM, Apr 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-07 12:48:56-04

CARBON, Texas — A small town is asking many questions of what's to come after most of it was destroyed in the Eastland complex fire.

"It's just really hard," said Mackenzie Shinn-Baker, a resident who lost her home.

When Shinn-Baker heard about the fire, she immediately tried to make it home to save her pet cats. While driving down a road near her home, Deputy Barbara Fenley stopped her.

"She told me that there was fire and there was no way to get home," said Shinn-Baker.

The next day Shinn-Baker would learn that her home, cats, and Deputy Fenley were gone.

"My heart breaks for the family," she said.

Jon Fenley, son of Barbara Fenley, spoke with 25 News about his mother.

"It just breaks my heart, I have two kids, she was the best grammy it's been hard to tell them that she's not coming back," said Fenley.

In-Depth: Small town gone in fire & deputy remembered

Deputy Fenley was out assisting with the fire in Carbon. The last the family was told she went to help an elderly couple.

"While evacuating people and going door-to-door, Fenley was last heard that she was going to check on an elderly individual," the statement read. "With the extreme deteriorating conditions and low visibility from smoke, Sgt. Fenley ran off the roadway and was engulfed in the fire."

Many around the country have expresses their sorrow for the loss of Deputy Fenley.

"Sgt. Fenley gave her life in the service of others and loved her community," the statement said.

The fire is blamed for burning over a hundred structures.

“The extreme conditions present across the state last week, greatly impacted several communities and the Texans that live there,” said Wes Moorehead, Texas A&M forest service fire chief. “These communities endured significant loss and we grieve with you.”

Overall, crews have responded to 178 wildfires that have burned nearly 170 square miles statewide since last Thursday, officials said.

54,513 acres in Eastland have burned. Now, 75% is contained according to Texas A&M Forest Service.