Central Texas fire departments balance mutual aid, local calls amid wildfires

Published: Mar. 29, 2022 at 8:58 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

GATESVILLE, Texas (KWTX) - While assisting with multiple wildfires in Central Texas, many local departments are juggling trying to offer a helping hand while still keeping an eye on their own communities in case help is needed back home.

“It’s a balancing act. It’s like a chess game. When requests come out, we can’t leave the city unoccupied or unprotected,” Belton Fire Chief Jon Fontenot explained Tuesday.

His team has assisted in several wildfires over the last several days, including ones in Moffat and Fort Hood as recently as Tuesday.

“The weekend was pretty tough on Bell County. We had three big fires, so our crews and our resources are starting to be depleted a little bit,” Fontenot said.

Other departments that are mostly volunteer, like Morgan’s Point Resort, don’t have as many resources to continue offering support multiple days in a row.

“209 man hours spent in Moffat, six apparatus and a lot of time,” Morgan’s Point Chief Taran Vaszocz-Williams said.

“Morgan’s Point would love to send resources [to the Crittenburg Fire. We’ve had a call over the last few days to do that and we just can’t. We have to keep our resources in Bell County right now,” he added.

In Gatesville, Chief Billy Vaden says a regional approach helps them know they can help their neighbors without sacrificing the response in their own community.

“We always leave at least one brush truck here to respond,” Vaden said.

“No one ever sends everything they have in house. You always keep something back for reserve. That way, all of us together can make up a pretty good strategy,” Vaden said. “We depend on the rest of the county fire departments to back us up and we back them up.”

Copyright 2022 KWTX. All rights reserved.