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North Texans helping homeowners impacted by Panhandle wildfires

North Texas volunteers still aiding Panhandle wildfire victims
North Texas volunteers still aiding Panhandle wildfire victims 02:27

Volunteers from North Texas are continuing to help clean up the ash and debris the Panhandle wildfires have left behind.

At least two people have died and as many as 500 structures have been destroyed.  

Texans on Mission, commonly known as the Texas Baptist Men, respond to disasters around the world.

"I think fires always seem to affect me the most because of the total devastation," said Ann Neal, who has been volunteering with the organization since 2017.

She and her husband are from McKinney, but they're in Fritch to help homeowners clear their properties.

"Plus, we do a whole lot of visiting with the homeowner, wrapping our arms around them and just loving on them because that's what we're here to share... to share the love of Jesus," she said.

On Thursday, the team was working with Gary Middaugh. Wildfires destroyed the home he and his wife shared for nearly 30 years.

The 81-year-old has lived in Fritch almost all his life. The town is in Hutchinson County, where the Smokehouse Creek Fire ignited and grew to nearly 1.1 million acres in just a few days.

Middaugh's neighbor's house was on fire.  They evacuated.

"We grabbed a few things," Middaugh said. "My wife took her car and took off, and I was going back in the house to get some more stuff and the law enforcement came by and told us to leave now."

When they were finally able to return to the property, everything was damaged. If Texans on Mission weren't there, Middaugh says he'd still be waiting for help.

"These people working and putting this stuff together… are doing a great job," he said.

They'll keep working in the Panhandle as long as they're needed.

"We say we like to bring help, hope, and healing, and that's exactly what we want to do," Neal said.

When they clear the mess and debris the wildfires left behind, it gives families a chance to rebuild.

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