LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - The frequency of house fires usually increases during the winter months. No one knows it better than a devoted American Red Cross volunteer couple from Lufkin. They've gotten up in the wee hours of the morning more often in the first week of January, than the whole month of December.
For Dale and Lynda Slagle, fire alarms are so frequent they're waking up at 3 in the morning, fire or no fire.
"What is this? Three o'clock in the morning, every morning it's three o'clock," Lynda Slagle said.
"Since Christmas day there have been ten," Dale Slagle said. "And we had the one in Huntington where we lost the lady over there. That fire, that started the season. Right now, for January of this year, with it being the 7th, we've had 8 fires already."
At each one, the Slagles fulfill the American Red Cross mission to relieve suffering by offering shelter, food and clothing.
"We can't fix their long term problems," Lynda Slagle said. "We try to help them with their immediate problems. Let's get through this first couple of days."
"I really feel for them, so we try to get there as quickly as we can, once we're notified, so we can get these people into a warm environment," Dale Slagle said. "In the back of our truck if that's all it is."
The back of their truck is sufficient to hand out a blanket, or if necessary a place for these registered nurses to set up a triage.
"We used it the other day in Huntington for triage for the gentlemen who was burned and had lost his girlfriend," Dale Slagle said.
The Slagles are tough about losses. Dale has over 30 years experience as a Nacogdoches firefighter, search and rescue member, and paramedic. Lynda is a retired charge nurse from Lufkin Memorial. But some things can still choke them up.
"We went to a fire a while back where one of the children collected Mickey's, and she lost everyone of them," Dale Slagle said. "You should have seen her face light up when we brought this back to her."
A house fire leads to loss. The Slagles have seen another common theme for the fires of 2014.
"It seems to be space heaters are going to be the biggest culprit at this point," Dale Slagle said.
This devoted volunteer couple sent a plea to their fellow East Texans. Use heating devices properly. It will give them peace of mind when they turn out the lights tonight for, hopefully, a full night of rest.
The Slagles have also helped out in six out-of-state disasters from Oklahoma to New York. They encourage other East Texans to volunteer with the American Red Cross. They say there's always a job to be done.