Crossroads men volunteer to fight Bastrop-area fires
BY GHENI PLATENBURG - GPLATENBURG@VICAD.COM
Sept. 6, 2011 at 4:06 a.m.
REQUESTS FOR AID
As of late Tuesday, Victoria city and county fire departments have not received any requests from Texas Intrastate Fire Mutual Aid System to deploy crews to assist in the Bastrop firefighting.
"We are encouraging people to go through the proper channels and avoid self-dispatch," said Ron Pray, Victoria County Fire Marshal.
Four Delhi residents still have houses to return to in the wake of the Bastrop-area fires thanks to the help of two Crossroads residents.
P. W. Covington, of Yoakum, and Chris Anzaldua, of Cuero, joined other area volunteer fire crews to fight fires in the Delhi community in Caldwell County, just south of the Bastrop County line, on Monday.
"Any chance I'm given to help someone, I do it," said Anzaldua, 23. "I'm honored it was me who got to go help."
After hearing about the need for volunteers to come assist with extinguishing the fires, which had damaged about 30,000 acres in Bastrop County, Covington, a disabled U.S. Air Force veteran and former firefighter with the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, immediately posted a request on his Facebook page for people willing to accompany him to fight the fires.
One person responded - Anzaldua.
Covington and Anzaldua, who recently returned home from serving in the U.S. Marine Corps and still had his fireproof clothing, headed out to the fires on Monday afternoon. While en route to Bastrop, however, they encountered fires along state Highway 304 and decided to stop and assist.
The Crossroads-area men were just two of about 30 volunteers from as far west as Luling and as far south as Rockport.
Crews worked from Monday afternoon until almost 3 a.m. Tuesday battling grass and structure fires with shovels and water hoses attached to brush trucks.
Their main battle was to keep the fires contained to the west of state Highway 304 and north of Interstate 10, said Covington, 37.
"It's the worst that this state has ever seen," said Covington, as he described the daunting 200 to 300 foot flames that leaped out at them. "We had to pull back from some of the houses and just let them burn."
Although seven houses were lost, Covington said fire crews were able to save at least four others.
When the crews left, only a few lit coals remained.
"Delhi is still there," Anzaldua said.
If the fires persist, Covington hopes more people will not hesitate to volunteer.
"I helped out after Katrina. I helped in Alabama after the tornadoes," said Covington. "Some of these people have every excuse in the book why they can't do anything, but one of these days, it's going to be our turn, and we're going to need some help too."