Volunteer fire departments across West Texas help extinguish Bro - FOX34 Lubbock

Volunteer fire departments across West Texas help extinguish Brownfield fire

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BROWNFIELD, Texas -

As we reported, a Brownfield cotton gin caught fire Thursday afternoon. 

First on the scene, Capt. Britni Shaw with the Brownfield Fire Department said the fire started north of the gin and spread south towards Highway 380.

She said several volunteer departments in the area rallied to help control it, while police closed off roads and evacuated surrounding homes.

"It was really critical to have everybody come help us out. We've got two paid firefighters on shift, so something like that it's just not enough," Shaw said.

These departments save municipal and county governments nearly $140 billion each year, according to the National Fire Protection Association.

Yet, the report indicated the departments have seen a 15 percent drop in personnel over the last 30 years.

As a result, Shaw said they have to rely on this "family-like" bond with other departments, especially with a fire of this magnitude. 

"It's just, the numbers are down and we were really lucky that we got as many as we did to come and help. Everybody had a huge role on it. We were able to section it out and get everybody working on it to control it," Shaw said.

With propane and gas tanks about 50 feet east of the gin, Brownfield Mayor Geronimo Gonzales said the fact no one got hurt speaks volumes of the work.

"It's really great to know that all of these rural communities can come together with something of this magnitude," Gonzales said. "The wind was just fueling, so if the volunteers wouldn't have showed up like they did, it could've been much worse."

He said with the conditions and potential catalysts surrounding the gin, these volunteers not only controlled the fire, but maybe saved the town as well.

"Without the volunteers we had show up yesterday and that might even be still out there today, who knows, our whole town could've burned down potentially," Gonzales said. "A grain elevator was right next to it, so it could've been much worse than what it was. So the value of a volunteer fire department is, you cannot put a price on it."

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