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Vigil for Wildfire Evacuees Held in Local County


Chalk Mountain fire | Image by Jay Hinton

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People from the Dallas-Fort Worth area gathered together to hold a vigil, praying that the Chalk Mountain Fire raging through Texas’ Somervell County would come to an end.

The prayer vigil was held on July 20 inside a building in Glen Rose chosen to accept evacuees. CBS 11 News was there to record the event.

A local pastor led the vigil. Surrounding him were evacuees who had their heads bowed in prayer.

“Lord, we don’t understand the loss we have suffered, that some of our friends have suffered,” he prayed.

In total, more than 100 hundred people — some from as far away as Fort Worth — were huddled together in the events center for the vigil. Evacuees would sleep on cots in that very space.

The many tearful residents from the evacuated areas prayed not only for the victims of the blaze — those who had lost property or been forced to flee their homes — but also for the firefighters and Texas A&M Forest Service personnel who worked to douse the fire.

As of July 27, the conflagration raging between Dinosaur Valley State Park and Chalk Mountain was just 40% contained. The location lies about 45 miles south of Fort Worth and less than 5 miles southwest of Glen Rose.

The fire that had been burning since July 18 had scorched over 6,700 acres of land. The blaze destroyed 16 houses, and a further five were damaged.

Many at the vigil had been affected by the fire somehow, if only because its progression had disrupted their lives. Some suffered more severely, though authorities have not reported any causalities.

“I did have a relative that lost a home. It’s been devastating. I watched a video yesterday,” said Misty Meltom, a Somervell County resident who attended the vigil. “It’s just devastating,” she repeated.

Emergency personnel has been working hard to contain the blaze, using equipment like bulldozers, helicopters, and water-carrying airplanes to help them. Some came from counties surrounding Somervell.

Authorities from the Texas A&M Forest Service have worked to put out the inferno and trace its cause and determine how it started. While no one appeared to believe that the fire was started intentionally, the investigation continued in tandem with attempts to put out the fire.

Pastor Joe Phillips of Rainbow Baptist Church, the pastor who led the vigil, expressed his belief that people’s prayers would make a difference.

“I really do feel there was a connection here tonight,” he said. He affirmed “the idea of pulling people together — pulling us out of our houses [that] the heat and COVID have pushed us in.”

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