On Friday, in the small and devastated Eastland County town of Carbon, Texas, Attorney General Ken Paxton told the community he and his office will help with the rebuilding “however we can, for a long time.”
Over the past week, 175-plus wildfires have torn through different regions of the state, burning more than 108,000 acres, killing more than 400 head of livestock, and destroying hundreds of structures.
Hundreds of people were forced to flee their homes, and one citizen—Eastland County Sheriff’s Deputy Sgt. Barbara Fenley—died while helping community members evacuate.
The Eastland Complex fires, seven blazes located in a region west of Fort Worth, ravaged more than 54,000 acres.
Gov. Greg Abbott announced a disaster declaration for 11 counties, allowing them to use all available state resources to fight the fires.
In tiny Carbon, with one restaurant and only a handful of streets, the blazes razed 86 homes—80 percent of the houses in the town. The dismantled structures, piles of rubble, and torched cars along Main Street resembled a war zone.
“I also wanted to come here to highlight the fact that this town needs help, and they need lots of help,” Paxton said as he stood in front of the Volunteer Fire Department warehouse. “I’m grateful for all the people that have showed up to provide help, to clean up, but this is going to be a long-term process. And I can tell you, my office is going to focus on what we focus on—the consumer side of this—but we’re also going to do what we can to connect this town to the rest of Texas, to the Legislature, to the other leaders … statewide leaders, to people that can come and provide resources to help people, because I know a lot of people didn’t have insurance here.”
“Our hope is to get rebuilt,” said Fire Chief Jody Forbus. “We want to see our town come back bigger and better. And there’s hope out there; there’s been a lot of home builders [contacting] me that want to get involved in and build back homes.”
“My office is going to be involved in this project however we can, for a long time, even if we don’t have direct control over what happens here,” Paxton added. “We’re going to stay involved because we’re not going to forget the people in this town.”
According to Paxton’s office, approximately 14 state agencies have been deployed to the counties, along with 58 fire departments to help provide equipment and support. There are approximately 18,000 residents in Eastland County, with almost 500 homes evacuated.