Wildfire Victims Struggle as School Starts


Homes in a neighborhood were destroyed in a Balch Springs fire | Image by NBC DFW

The start of the school year presents new challenges for families affected by the Balch Springs wildfire.

It has been two weeks since a mowing crew started a fire that annihilated nine homes and damaged over a dozen more on July 25, as previously reported by The Dallas Express.

Thirty-eight students in Mesquite ISD have been affected by the fire, and Jennifer Mobley, who serves as the district’s director of student support, did what she could to make sure the students did not feel any different when they walked through the doors of their schools this Tuesday, the first day of school.

While Mobley tried to promote a feeling of normalcy for the affected students, Miguel Quinonez told Fox 4 News that his 14-year-old daughter, Kayla, did not want to attend her first day of high school after the fire leveled their house.

“It’s really painful for her, especially since she was inside the house with my grandson. She had to run away so fast,” said Quinonez. His daughter is a freshman this year at Horn High School in Mesquite. She started the school year with practically nothing, not even clothes.

When news of the fire’s devastation broke, Mobley and the school district officials knew students and their families would need support. Mesquite ISD immediately set up a fund to help those who lost everything. So far, $10,000 has been raised, according to Fox 4 News.

With so many displaced families, the Mesquite ISD transportation department also stepped up. It will pick up students and take them back and forth from school, no matter where the students have moved to.

School uniforms were purchased for the affected families, but Mobley stated that the charitable resources in the area are dwindling.

“We have probably bought out our Walmart for the past three days because we have run out of clothes there,” Mobley said.

While the district is helping to provide what students will need for classes, families like the Quinonezs are living out of hotel rooms and AirBnBs while trying to find their next home.

“If we show that we are weak, it will be worse for them,” said Quinonez, commenting on his will to stay strong for his family.

The Dallas Express reached out to the Dallas ISD to inquire about any additional assistance it may have provided to the fire victims since the fire occurred in Dallas County. As of press time, no response had been received from the district.

Note: This article was updated on August 17, 2022, to make corrections.

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Nancy campbell
Nancy campbell
7 months ago

Where can one donate for the kids?

Jim Adkins
Jim Adkins
7 months ago

It would be wonderful if Dallas County (not “country”) was able to provide relief efforts. You are correct in stating that Mesquite and for that matter Balch Springs are within Dallas County. My question to the author of this article is what do the STAAR scores of DISD students have to do with this tragedy that occurred within the city of Balch Springs? The students living in these houses that were tragically lost in this fire all attend Mesquite ISD schools. The STAAR scores for DISD are not germane to this story and MISD scores might even look better.