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The largest wildfire in state history burns in the Texas Panhandle.
Greenville Fire-Rescue via AP

Church members’ homes destroyed in Texas Panhandle wildfire

At least a half-dozen families who attend Churches of Christ must rebuild after the largest blaze in Texas history.

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Multiple members of Churches of Christ have lost homes in the Texas Panhandle wildfire, which has grown into the largest in state history.

The blaze destroyed the residences of three families who attend the Canadian Church of Christ, about 100 miles northeast of Amarillo.

“Several others have smoke damage from being close to the fire,” Canadian preaching minister Jake Perkins said. “And many somehow survived it (with houses intact) as the fire went right around their home or right up next to it.”

Related: Trusting God in the fire

Canadian, with a population of about 2,200, is an oil-and-gas and ranching community.

“A lot of people lost a lot of cows,” Perkins said. “We had one member whose house was OK, but he lost over 600 head of cattle.”

Likewise, three member families of the Fritch Church of Christ — in a hard-hit town of 1,900 about 35 miles northeast of Amarillo — must rebuild.

Those families include a father and mother with three children, youth minister Tyler Brassfield said.

“The mom sent me pictures of their house. It’s just completely flat,” Brassfield said. 

The scene at the Schultz family's home in Fritch, Texas.

The scene at the Schultz family’s home in Fritch, Texas.

But church leaders in both Canadian and Fritch praise God that members escaped the flames with no injuries.

One fatality — an 83-year-old woman — has been confirmed in the wildfire, according to The Associated Press.

The Smokehouse Creek Fire is burning nearly 1,700 square miles in Texas and Oklahoma and is just 3 percent contained, according to the Texas A&M Forest Service.

In the Texas Panhandle on Thursday, a dusting of snow and lower temperatures “gave firefighters a brief window of relief in desperate efforts to corral the blaze,” as AP described it.

“We just need more prayers for even more moisture than what we got this morning,” Brassfield told The Christian Chronicle. 

“We’re a tough old community out here,” he added. “There’s a lot of ranch hands, a lot of good old boys and a lot of willingness to help each other out.”

Churches of Christ Disaster Relief Effort in Nashville, Tenn., dispatched a tractor-trailer rig full of food and emergency supplies to Canadian.

The church urges donations to the Canadian Fire Relief Fund, a cooperative effort by local houses of worship. Or gift cards can be given directly to the congregation.

“We want to have gift cards where we can meet needs in the weeks and even the months to come,” Perkins said. “When someone says, ‘Man, we’ve got this house built, but we can’t afford to get our bathroom finished out,’ we want to be able to say, ‘Here’s a $2,000 gift card that we’ve kept for Home Depot or whatever,’ especially for the uninsured and the underinsured.”

More than one ministry offered to deliver supplies to the Fritch church, leaders said, but the town already has received more physical goods than it can store.

“Our elders feel that all we are capable of handling now …  is monetary donations that we can provide to our members and others in the community who have lost everything,” the church said in a statement. Such donations can be made online.

For Fritch residents, the latest fire has rekindled memories of a blaze 10 years ago that burned hundreds of homes and left deep scars.

“It hurts,” Brassfield said. “There’s just nothing you can do or say that helps take away the pain from that family (who has lost a home). So we’re just trying our very best to just be there and present and help in whatever way possible.”

BOBBY ROSS JR. is Editor-in-Chief of The Christian Chronicle. Reach him at [email protected].

“It hurts. There’s just nothing you can do or say that helps take away the pain from that family.”


Filed under: Canadian Church of Christ Churches of Christ Disaster Relief Effort disaster relief Fire Fritch Church of Christ National News Smokehouse Creek Fire texas panhandle Top Stories wildfire

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