I could see the devastation along Highway 500 of the results that the fire had ravaged land and trees. Then I could smell the smoke as I stepped out of my truck, looking around to see the activities of airplanes unloading chemicals or water and firefighters doing what they needed to do. The "headquarters" was set up in the tabernackle beside Deen Cemetery, on Hwy 500 and CR 211. According to Chris Stewart Fire Chief of the San Saba Volunteer Fire Department, the fire started at approximately 1p.m. on Saturday, July 23rd on Hwy 500 just east of the "headquarters." At 5:00 p.m. they had 50% of the fire contained with South wind between 10 and 15 mph. A couple of small buildings were destroyed by fire but no large buildings or homes.
The firefighters saved a mobile home, several buildings and a stone garage located across from the Deen Cemetery that was in the path of the fire. Stewart reported that SSVFD was being assisted by nine departments: Elm Grove, Richland Springs, Rochelle, Cherokee, Mills County, Brady, Brooksmith, Wichell, and Placid. The Texas Forest Service, of The Texas A & M University System, was assisting with manpower, equipment and planes and expected to have more equipment and manpower on Sunday, July 24th.Steven Carter, Reg-ional Fire Coordinator, reported that since October, 3.2 million acres and 500 homes have been lost to fire. This has been the hottest dry period in Texas history.
Fire Chief Stewart expressed overwhelming gratitude to all the firefighters that have come to help and special thanks to other volunteers that have helped in other ways with communication, encouragement, food, water and prayers. There will be firefighters on hand two or three days after the fire is contained in case of another flare-up.
I just witnessed communities working together to do what needed to be done, risking their lives and dedicated to helping one another in a difficult situation. And if and when the need arises, I know that SSVFD will be ready to assist other communities, too. In time the land that was ravaged will heal but never be the same. However, the destruction in the path of the fire and the devastation and concern during the ravaging will never be forgotten.