East Texas Firewise students clean up 2 homes in Etoile

ETOILE, TX (KTRE) - Etoile Middle School students are making a big difference in their community.

"You don't have to be a grown up to make a difference. And, you don't have to be big to make a difference. These kids might be little, but they're making a big difference in the community," said Texas Forest Service Firewise liaison, Jan Amen.

With the support of the Texas Forest Service and local fire departments, the children are cleaning up debris and trash that could potentially spark fires.

"There's been a lot of fires here, and people need to know to be careful," said Firewise member, Sarah Ister.

This summer, Etoile had 5 wildfires in one week. And, even though fall is here, East Texas is still in a drought.

"We are at risk, and I think that it would be so much better for us to go out there and clean as many houses as we can," said Firewise president, Hannah Gilbert.

The Firewise students have received attention and praise locally and nationally for their efforts. Visitors from the University of Florida are doing a case study on nationwide youth wildfire active preparedness.

"It's really exciting to see these kids get involved and get excited and know that they're making a difference," said University of Florida professor, Martha Monroe.

These kids and their sponsor say they just want to clean up and protect the place they call home.

"Our goal as Firewise is to help our community be safe from fire, and we know that there are a lot of elderly in this community. So, we want to be a service and help to them," said Special Programs Director of Etoile ISD, Linda Tootle.

Etoile is one of eight schools in the nation actively working against wildfires.

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