How I Survived: The Texas Wildfires

Mark Thomas, 48, Amarillo

Texas Wildfire

Wildfires at Possum Kingdom Lake, Texas     Photo: The National Guard/Flickr

When the fireman told me to evacuate, I didn’t. Instead, I raced to my house, and the fire was already almost to my fence. I dropped the blade on my tractor and tried to cut a firebreak. But it was too close, so my apprentice and I grabbed a hose, and soon flames were coming up around us. The smoke and heat were burning us, and we couldn’t see each other. That was when I finally realized we had to go. I took off toward town going about 60 miles per hour, totally blind because the smoke was so thick. When I finally emerged from the smoke, I saw the fire jump the road. So I turned around and went back to protect my house. It was so hot that pine trees that weren’t anywhere near anything burning just kind of exploded. It was one weird thing after another. I was able to save my house but not my neighbors’. It probably wasn’t the safest thing to do, but I couldn’t help myself. I was raised in the country, and neighbors help neighbors.

From Outside Magazine, Aug 2011 Get the Latest Issue

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