KILGORE, Texas (KETK) – Two hotels burned down in East Texas in only two days. The historic Hotel Ritual in Jacksonville and Kilgore’s Best Western Inn both caught fire back to back.
These fires combined with an early heat wave have worn out first responders. The last time East Texas experienced a bad fire season was in 2011 and Smith County fire officials are comparing this season to that time.
With temperatures reaching triple digits already in June, first responders can’t fight fires for as long as they would in cooler weather.
“It really starts to break us down whenever we are on these scenes for extended periods of time,” said Caleb Snider, a Smith County Fire Lieutenant.
First responders also said it’s difficult for them to wear their gear for a long time.
In each of the recent fires several departments have had to respond because fireman needed to go to rehab a lot sooner so they’re not having to leave the scene in an ambulance due to being overheated.
Three fireman were injured in the Jacksonville fire Sunday afternoon because of the extreme heat and this is why they need a lot of reinforcement.
“It’s nationwide where there’s a vast shortage of volunteer personnel,” said Snider. “Volunteers are kind of going away (but) we need them just as much as they need us.”
If you would like to help there are many agencies across East Texas with openings. Call your local volunteer fire department for more information.