Recent fires evidence of VFD shortage in East Texas

ANGELINA COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - By Holley Nees - email

ANGELINA COUNTY, Texas (KTRE) - They're fighting fires, trying to save homes and people, but they are the ones that need the help.

"We had one just recently in Fairview that on arrival it was too involved to save the house anyway, but we might have saved one or two rooms had we had help," said Bobby Cranford, a Fuller Springs Volunteer firefighter.

The shortage of volunteer firefighters is a problem across Angelina County.

Just Tuesday, a man died in a mobile home fire off a rural road. Neighbors tried to help as they waited for volunteers to arrive.

"Your house can go up and it'll be gone before they even get here to bat an eye or blink at it," said county resident David Chrisco.

"Scared me realizing that we could die also in a fire that couldn't be stopped because there are not enough firemen," said another county resident, Judy Moran.

"You have a limited number of volunteers," said Central VFD Chief Dennis Cochran. "You have limited resources. Now take that and respond to a fire."

One of the challenges the volunteer firefighters face in serving a rural area is actually finding the fire. Like the one that happened Tuesday near Twin Oaks Road is actually on Enkema Street. It's tough to find on a map and you can't find it on a GPS.

"County road conditions are bad, just finding the location sometimes can be a challenge because mailboxes are not marked properly or not marked at all," Cochran said.

A lack of manpower and funding, but they keep fighting to help.

"I'm very grateful for them and what they did because they did the best they could with what they could and that's all you can ask for of them," Chrisco said.

It's a tough job that somebody has to do and quitting is not an option.

"Believe me, in 25 years, that has come across my mind many a time," Cochran said. "But you go back to that old saying is 'if I don't do it, who will?'"

Copyright 2011 KTRE. All rights reserved.