It’s been a trying few weeks for several Valencia County residents who have been attempting to pick up their lives after a wildland fire destroyed their homes.

It was a blustery day here in Valencia County —a no burn day according to the Valencia County Fire Department. The winds had been whipping throughout the Middle Rio Grande Valley for days. It’s spring and that’s what happens every single year here.

When the fire started on the west side of the Rio Grande, it wasn’t surprising when it jumped the river to the east. Firefighters did their best to save property, but it was too much for them to handle.

We thank our career and volunteer firefighters for their continued dedication to the fire service and to the community. They make a difference each and every day, and when a large fire like this occurs, they are on the ground, working to save what they can.

Unfortunately, this time the winds were too much. The fire spread too quickly for them to save everyone’s home.

While a couple of firefighters had to be treated for smoke-related injuries, we’re grateful that no civilians were hurt during the fire.

I can’t imagine the devastation these families felt watching the flames devour their homes and their possessions. I’m sure they all worked hard, for years, to accumulate what they had.

While material things can always be replaced, the aftermath of the fire is still an overwhelming loss for these families. They’ve lost their homes, furniture, their clothing and appliances, their kitchenware, their toothbrushes and even more sad, their sense of safety.

As they continue to pick up the pieces of their lives, there has been an outpouring of support for the fire victims. A countless number of people have come forward to donate what they can to these families. Thousands of dollars have been raised and donations of furniture, clothing, household items and more has been collected.

I honestly can’t say that I’m surprised. This community is filled with people always willing and able to help when someone else — whether it’s a friend or stranger — is in need.

We are a stronger and better community because of these people who want — and need — to help. I am grateful for Valencia County and I do appreciate you!

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