Residents react to Matador wildfire - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

Residents react to Matador wildfire

By Ann Wyatt Little - bio | email

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) – Firefighters worked into the night and will likely battle a large wildfire in Motley County all Monday to completely contain the fire.

The blaze, that started Sunday afternoon, came within four miles of town. There are no reports of injuries and minimal structure damage given the size of the fire.

Classes are canceled Tuesday.   

"All of the sudden there was just a big old blaze there was fire everywhere," said Charlie Campbell who grew up in Matador and was back in town visiting family.

It was difficult to find a stretch of pasture that was not burning near the West Texas town of Matador Sunday afternoon.

"It's a large fire. We have two. One started in Roaring Springs and another west of town," Motley County Sheriff Chris Spence said at the command post in town.

As the flames approached the town of 700 authorities went door to door evacuating residents. Troopers asked everyone to get to the school gym. The fire was only four miles from the edge of town.

"It's just so scary. I've never seen this in Matador, Texas," said Vivian Campbell, Charlie's wife.

"It's frightening. We had to drive in the blaze to get out of it and by the grace of god we all made it out," said Campbell.

Strong winds carried flames across Motley County. Volunteer firefighters and emergency management teams across the region rushed to save Matador. Crews from Floydada, Dickens County, Crosbyton, West Carlisle, Paducah and several other communities all helped fight the fires. The Lubbock County Sheriff's Office mobile command unit was also on scene. Additional DPS troopers patrolled roads, and temporarily shut down access into Matador when the threat of fire was at its greatest. State crews with the Texas Forest Service and Texas Department of Transportation are also helping local crews.

"I'm thankful for all of the help from the surrounding areas. It feels good to know that everyone is here," said Sheriff Spence.

As the sun began to set, the horizon got even brighter. The orange glow from the flames could be seen for miles.

"No one has died and there is little property damage and most of what is burning is pasture land," added Spence. The fire damaged several sheds and barns along with three homes.

It's not quite clear what type of damage property owners encountered. Authorities hope to have a better idea once the sun comes up Monday.

There were so many patches of flames on the eight miles stretch between the two towns where the fires started that crews couldn't reach them all. Everyone, even people like Vivian Campbell, who don't fight fires pitched in.

"We got buckets because we didn't have hoses. It was getting close to her propane tank," said Campbell.

Firefighters rotated shifts around the clock. Road crews worked feverishly to cut the brush back on the side of the roads. Authorities had extra diesel fuel, equipment and water trucked in.

To save animals from the burning fires, crews cut fences to free them. The people of this town are thankful everyone is safe.

The sheriff says he has never seen fires this bad. Teams with the Red Cross and Salvation Army are on the ground in Matador. The Salvation Army provided support to the firefighters.

Sheriff Spence says burning cotton seeds started the Roaring Springs fire, but are still working to determine what caused the fire west of Matador.

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