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Central Texas firefighters head to panhandle to help fight wildfires

Firefighters head north to panhandle to help
Posted at 5:15 PM, Feb 28, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-28 18:15:59-05

WACO, Texas — The Smokehouse Creek Fire in the Texas panhandle is the second largest wildfire in Texas history.

Several local fire crews have headed north to fight the blaze and help with evacuations.

25 News spoke to Temple and Killeen Fire about that deployment.

Temple Fire and Rescue deployed four firefighters Tuesday at noon to help battle the blazes in the panhandle.

They’re part of TIFMAN, Texas Intra-State Fire Mutual Aid system.

“Will be working with resources up there to contain the fires. They’ll try to salvage and protect property under threat and making sure people are safe and help with evacuations if necessary," said Temple Fire Captain, Dustin McGraw.

Those four firefighters have had a week-long wild land firefighting course to prepare for events like this.

McGraw says, “I’m proud to be part of the personnel helping. I’m not too worried cause we’re all trained, but just proud to help out. I know they’re losing a lot of homes and structures.”

If a wild land fire breaks out in Temple while those firefighters are gone, McGraw says they have enough staff to respond.

"The four didn’t deplete our local events. So we have plenty of personnel and equipment to fight fire if we have one," McGraw said.

Killeen Fire is also responding to the panhandle sending six firefighters and a brush truck.

"I’m very proud and concerned, too. A 100 thousand or more acre fire is not seen very often, but I’m very confident in the training," said Killeen Fire Chief, James Kubinski.

Two of those Killeen firefighters are strike team leaders working with task force one out of College Station.

"It’s early in the season. I hope this isn’t what we should expect to see. We hope this is not an indicator, but even if it does we stand ready," Kubinksi said.
The firefighters will be gone for 14 days unless they extend them to 21 days then they’ll come home and send more if needed.