Big Country

Growing rural population extends response time for local fire departments

House fires a bigger problem in rural areas

BUFFALO GAP, Texas - It usually takes first responders longer to get to homes in the country in an emergency. A fire at a house near Buffalo Gap last week is an example of that.

"Every minute of a house fire, it doubles in size. It doesn't take very long for it to get completely out of hand," said Buffalo Gap Fire Chief Dana Sowell

Dana Clawson lived in the country for six months before a fire tore though her home. She said she didn't know how long it could take volunteer fire departments to get on scene.

"I had no idea how fast the fire can move. 25 minutes is a long time," said Clawson. 

"We are just all volunteers. We all have lives. We are not paid to standby like in Abilene," said Sowell. 

Clawson said it took even longer to find water.

"They told me they couldn't do anything until water came. So that was another 25 minutes or so until water came," said Clawson. 

"There are not many fire hydrants. There's a few, but if it's not within 1,000 feet of your house it takes too much line and you lose too much pressure," said Sowell. 

Sowell said people moving to the country should take that into consideration.

"Every time you drive up that way there's a new house," said Sowell.

"We won't be coming back here or anyplace else that there's no water. It's just too scary," Clawson said.

Clawson said she hopes other homeowners learn from her experience.

"If they had gotten there sooner and if the water was there it wouldn't have been a big deal. So the house didn't have to burn, not burn like it did," said Clawson.

Sowell said its important people call the fire department as soon as they notice signs of a fire and don't try to put out the fire on their own first. He said the sooner someone calls, the sooner they can respond.

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