July 4th weekend will go down in the books as a busy one for First Responders. Revelers were the cause of much of the activity, while speed, drowsiness and perhaps distracted driving was another cause. Brownfield Fire Chief Dennis Rowe said that it was a bad weekend, but they are ready for all July 4th celebrations. “When it is this dry, we have to be especially prepared. We know there will be a lot of calls.”
Rowe reported that the Fire Department had an extremely high volume of calls. Seventeen of those calls were for fires as a result of fireworks. In a County in such desperate need of rain, folks had hoped that common sense would prevail and that perhaps people would wait on their fireworks until the County has had a decent rainfall. That was not the case.
The calls came one on top of the other. Brownfield Firefighters, Meadow Volunteer Firefighters and Wellman Volunteer Firefighters worked until the early morning hours putting out fires. As dry as it was, CRP land and wheat ground would just go up like kindling. The tone outs seemed to never stop. As exhausted as they were, the firefighters and others who were helping went from one scene to the next. Several people brought cold drinks to the crews as they worked.
County Judge Butch Wagner stated, “I am so proud of our firefighters. They worked so hard and they did a good job for the county. We were ready to help with maintainers if they were needed. It was a good effort of everyone working together. People just don’t realize what one little spark can do in a dry field.”
The Terry County Commissioners were unable to completely ban fireworks this year, due to the drought numbers not being high enough. There have been many questions about this decision, but it truly was out of the Commissioners hands. Commissioner Ernie Elizardo stated, “We couldn’t make that call. It was out of our hands. We had to work inside the boundaries of the law. Trust me. We were all as upset about it as everyone else was. We are just thankful that there was no loss of life in the high volume of fires across the county.” The Commissioners urge everyone to continue to be safe with fires out in the county. The drought is still in full effect and fires can get out of control so quickly.
Rowe stated, “It would have made our jobs a little easier if some people could have used some common sense. Everyone should know that when we are having dry conditions, you should not be setting off fireworks in dry fields of grass or CRP. Always keep water handy anytime you are shooting fireworks and be safe about how you set them off.”
Rowe reported there were 25 total calls over the weekend, with four of those being major accidents. Two fatalities were reported from a July 4th early morning accident west of Brownfield on 380. It appears that one driver fell asleep at the wheel and veered into oncoming traffic in the other lane. Both drivers were pronounced dead at the scene. The drivers were identified as James Benjamin Northcutt of Carrizozo, New Mexico and Angel Rojas-Carranco of Brownfield. One car was totally engulfed in flames when First Responders arrived.
The other accidents produced some serious injuries, but, at last report, none appeared to be life threatening.
Rowe reported there were other calls of various types on the weekend.
Rowe stated, “Terry County is very fortunate to have all of the different agencies work so well together. The Sheriff’s Office, Police Department, Highway Patrol, EMS and Texas Department of Transportation all came together and got everyone through this weekend. Without the team effort would not be as successful at the services we all provide for this community.”
Please continue to exercise caution in our dry, dry land. And pray for some rain!