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'It's the biggest fire I've ever been on': Temple fire crews reflect on panhandle deployment

Temple Fire Department
Posted at 5:33 PM, Mar 11, 2024

TEMPLE, Texas — Central Texas fire crews are back after fighting the panhandle blaze.

25 News spoke with Temple Fire and Rescue about the deployment.

“I was a part of the largest fire in Texas, and did what I could to help those people out," said Matt Lane with Temple Fire and Rescue.

Lane is usually a driver for Temple Fire and Rescue, but when the panhandle fires broke out, he put on his wildfire hat and fought blazes in the near Canadian for seven days.

“This was the biggest fire I’ve ever been on," Lane said.

He worked until midnight daily when they first got there, and then got back at it at 7 a.m.

“There were houses on the ground, and a lot of grass burned, and people doing what they can to rebuild," Lane said.

The Temple Fire Department is one of many in Central Texas that sent crews to the panhandle to fight the Smokehouse Creek Fire as part of TIFMAS.

Hewitt crews also returned recently posting on their Facebook page that they are proud of those who served others. 

Waco Fire posted photos online throughout their deployment — sometimes in the snow.

Waco crews also just got back to Central Texas, and Killeen Fire sent crews.

Crews are now off for 24 hours to decompress.

Matt Lane says he’ll never forget this deployment saying, “We just all came together and worked as a cohesive unit to complete our mission.”

Temple Fire also sent more firefighters to the panhandle for another rotation.