Breckenridge Texan

Wildfire about 60 percent contained, community turns out to feed firefighters

Wildfire about 60 percent contained, community turns out to feed firefighters
June 29
09:37 2018

As a wildfire raged just over the horizon Thursday night, threatening the homes of family and friends, volunteers gathered once again at the Gunsight Baptist Church to do what they could to help anyone and everyone involved in the emergency.

The fire has been dubbed the Conner Fire. It was burning in the area of County Road 187 in southern Stephens County and northern Eastland County. By about 6:30 a.m. Friday, June 29, the Texas A&M Forest Service said the fire is about 60 percent contained and had burned about 1,000 acres.

Volunteers at Gunsight Baptist Church make sandwiches in an assembly line Thursday night. The food, along with bottled water and Gatorade, was delivered to firefighters battling a wildfire in southern Stephens County. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

As they have during past wildfires in the area, the church members went to work collecting and organizing bottle water, Gatorade and food donated by the community. Back in the church kitchen, they seemed to be pros at setting up a sandwich making assembly line, churning out sandwich after sandwich.

Just when the supplies seemed to start running low, the doors of the church would open and more community members would walk in, loaded down with bags of food and cases of drinks.

Gunsight Baptist Church is located on U.S. Highway 183, about 10 miles south of Breckenridge and about 17 miles from Cisco and Eastland. But, still, the people came, bringing supplies to help the firefighters.

They brought bread, mustard, mayonnaise, cheese and sandwich meat. There were also bags of chips, cookies, pickles, granola bars, bottled water and Gatorade. Occasionally, someone would come through the door with boxes of pizza or fried chicken. According to the volunteers, the Breckenridge Walmart donated 30 cases of water.

When they had enough to fill a pickup truck, a couple of the volunteers took off in the direction of the smoke to make sure the firefighters had something to drink and eat.

And the effort was appreciated. Breckenridge Fire Chief Calvin Chaney posted on Facebook late Thursday: “The Breckenridge Fire Department, Caddo VFD, Hubbard Creek VFD, Wayland VFD, Moran VFD, Loving VFD, the Texas Forestry Service would like to say thank you for all the food and drinks to feed the firefighters. It maybe just a sandwich to you but it was a steak to us, special thanks to the Gunsight Baptist Church for using their building to keep extra food and drinks.”

Standing in front of the church as smoke from the fire billowed over the horizon, church member Cathy Beggs keeps an eye on her grandson, Levi. She and her husband, Randy, a deacon at the church, were there, along with their daughter-in-law, Kenna Rainey, and their grandson. Their son, Matt Rainey, was moving cattle out of the path of the fire.

Beggs said she started organizing the donations when her daughter-in-law put out the word that they needed food and water for the firefighters who were battling the blaze that was not too far from the Rainey property. Once the call for help went out, people started showing up at the church, including church members and then others in the community.

“There’s just been lots of people coming in,” Beggs said. “The community is really showing up.”

The Texas A&M Forest Service brought in helicopters, airplanes and bulldozers to help fight the fire. The area fire departments on the ground include the Breckenridge Fire Department and the Volunteer Fire Departments from Caddo, Hubbard Creek, Wayland, Moran and Loving.

Community members pitched in Thursday night to donate and organize food and drinks to be delivered to those fighting the Conner Fire in southern Stephens County and northern Eastern County. According to the Texas A&M Forest Service, the fire was about 60 percent contained early Friday morning. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

Story by Carla McKeown/Breckenridge Texan

Cutline, top photo: A volunteer at Gunsight Baptist Church looks to the west, where smoke from the Conner Fire billows over the horizon, as he waits on another load of donated supplies to show up. People from the area brought in cases of bottled water, Gatorade and food to donate to the firefighters on the scene. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

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