• Philip Burn

Salvation Army Volunteers Serving as Texas Panhandle Wildfires Threaten Their Community

Dallas, Texas (February 28, 2023) – Salvation Army Emergency Disaster Services (EDS) personnel and trained volunteers from Pampa are providing practical support to first responders and displaced residents impacted by dangerous wildfires in the Panhandle of Texas. Power has been cut off to thousands of homes and businesses, forcing evacuations as fast-moving wildfires threaten cities in the region.  

Multiple fires are burning in very dry conditions, fueled by strong winds and unseasonably high temperatures. A fire at Smokehouse Creek, north of Amarillo, has already burned more than 500,000 acres (about twice the area of San Antonio, Texas) and has quickly become the second-largest wildfire in Texas history.  

The EDS team from The Salvation Army of Pampa deployed on Monday to Lefors, Texas, providing meals and hydration to firefighters and first responders. Meanwhile, the First Baptist Church of Pampa is serving as a shelter for displaced residents who have evacuated their homes. The Salvation Army team is supporting approximately 50 individuals at the shelter with meals, drinks and snacks in addition to the City of Pampa Emergency Operations Center. A Salvation Army representative will visit Borger and other communities in the region on Wednesday to assess service needs. 

“The Salvation Army has received tremendous support from local businesses, restaurants and community organizations who have generously provided meals, drinks, relief supplies and more. Our community has really pulled together to support the response efforts,” said Shelby Huff, Incident Commander for The Salvation Army response efforts in the area. “I have been involved in many Salvation Army disaster response efforts in Texas and beyond, but this one is particularly challenging as it is directly impacting my community, my neighbors and my family. The Salvation Army team of volunteers have worked tremendously hard over the last few days to support the efforts of the firefighters who are working to protect our city, homes and businesses.” 

In addition to meals and drinks, the committed volunteers at The Salvation Army have also been handing out “Blessings Bags” to firefighters. Each Salvation Army branded drawstring bag contains multiple items specifically selected to help the firefighters in challenging circumstances while they are working. Items include ChapStick, baby powder, bottles of water, baby wipes, lens cleaner, socks, DripDrop powder for dehydration relief, snacks and more.  

“The firefighters are loving the Blessing Bags,” said Huff. “Our team has put together a selection of items for the firefighters and they love the fact everything comes in a drawstring bag that they can throw in the truck without risk of losing or dropping anything. We are blessed to support in this way and will continue to serve until the fires are contained.” 

Service continues on Wednesday as wildfires burn and spread throughout the region. The Salvation Army has provided 450 snacks, 818 bottles of water, 70 gallons of tea, 240 quarts of ice, 660 meals and 73 Blessings Bags.  

To support The Salvation Army’s ongoing response efforts to the Texas Panhandle wildfires, you can make a financial donation at give.helpsalvationarmy.org or call 1-800-SAl-ARMY. Visit www.disaster.salvationarmyusa.org for updated disaster information. Watch for regular updates on our social media pages at www.facebook.com/salvationarmytexas/ and www.twitter.com/salarmytx