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SOUTHLAKE (CBSDFW.COM) – They’re used to answering the call of duty, but this time, the call came from the Texas Panhandle.
Two Southlake firefighters, Seth Corder and Brent Nobile are back home after spending nearly a week battling devastating wildfires in the Texas Panhandle.
“Once they told me they had the big fires up there, I just wanted to go in and help,” says Southlake firefighter Nobile.
The Perryton fire claimed one life, scorched more than 300,000 acres and is the third largest in the history of the Texas A&M Forest Service.
What they saw when they arrived March 7 was beyond their imaginations.
“We can just see a wall of smoke. Wall of smoke coming around. It’s amazing how much damage just a fire can do,” says Corder.
The destruction, they say, was devastating, especially for the ranchers. The fire claimed around 1,500 head of cattle.
“I grew up on a cattle ranch, so I understand that’s those people’s livelihood. This is what they do for a living,” says Corder.
“You never expect to just drive down the road and see hundreds of head of livestock and cattle that have all been killed because they couldn’t escape it,” says Nobile.
The firefighters spent six days extinguishing flare ups and helping mop-up operations, their brush truck in tow. And they saw a community grateful for the extra hands. One woman who lost everything tried to give them nearly $300 at a restaurant. They paid it forward by leaving it all for their waitress.
“Someone who loses everything, and still it’s that type of generosity that we’re out there fighting the fire so she feels like she needs to do that. It was amazing,” says Corder.
They are two of nine Southlake firefighters who have received specialized wild land fire training, which includes classroom and field training and can take more than a year to complete.