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Gov. Greg Abbott addresses Mesquite Heat fire response, thanks first responders

At a press conference in Abilene Tuesday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott thanked first responders for their contributions to contain the Mesquite Heat fire.
Credit: Esmeralda Perez

TAYLOR COUNTY, Texas — Tuesday marked one week since the Mesquite Heat fire broke out in Taylor County.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott spoke at the Taylor County Precinct One facility where he thanked first responders for their work on the fire that destroyed 20 homes and burned more than 11,000 acres.

Abbott said right now, the key focus is on assessing the damage in the area. 

“Gathering information to be able to show how much damage has occurred this is very important because our ability to get a federal disaster declaration will depend upon the total amount of damages that have been sustained,” Abbott said. 

The governor said in the past few months there have been 73 counties with governor-declared wildfire disasters. Because of the Mesquite Heat fire, Taylor County is among that group.

The fire was 58 percent contained as of Tuesday afternoon. Taylor County Sheriff and View Volunteer Fire Chief, Ricky Bishop said it's likely to be completely contained by the end of the week. 

“We’re looking at the potential of going towards the end of the week because of some of the hot spots that are still out there. If the weather cooperates a little bit more then it would speed that up but at least through Friday for sure,” Bishop said.

The fire has taken a toll on volunteer fire departments with limited resources. Bishop said the View VFD is accepting monetary donations to cover for repairs.

“We have trucks that are breaking that we’re having to do a lot of repairs. Just yesterday for our fire department we spent close to $2,000 just on a few tires and a new pump that quit on us just so we can get back and running in a timely manner,” Bishop said. 

The Community Foundation of Abilene has been the main source of fundraising to help those affected by the fire with its Big Country Fire Relief Fund.

“Since last week, it's raised over $130,000 but we were raising funds before that and so the total for the fund is about $180,000. Grants that will be paid from that fund will go to volunteer fire departments who were helping in those areas of the fire as well as providing short term and long term relief for people who have been affected by the fires," Community Foundation of Abilene President/CEO, Katie Alford, said. 

Alford said organizations in the area will be distributing the funds to the residents affected by the Mesquite Heat fire.

To assess property damage, visit tdem.texas.gov.

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