Recovering Magnolia area on alert for another fire
HOUSTON (KTRK) -- The threat of a wildfire is still very fresh in the minds of residents in Montgomery, Grimes and Waller counties.
The tri-county Riley Road fire burned for two weeks, destroying nearly 19,000 acres and 76 buildings. Now those who live in the damaged areas are doing what they can to recover, and hope they can prevent it from happening again.
Residents told us they are in a very long road to rebuilding and that the first step is to remove the concrete slab on which their house used to stand because it's too brittle to even sweep.
"First couple days you're numb," said Jeff Ingram.
But he says life gets better every day.
"We were one of the last to come back," Ingram told us.
He lost an outhouse in last month's wildfire in the Magnolia area. And while the fire line threatened the perimeter of his home, it was spared.
"God, I mean, we were blessed. Some people call it luck, but I think we were blessed," said Ingram.
His sister-in-law, who lives next door, lost everything.
"It was really devastating when we first got here to drive up and see that you have nothing left," Kay Barr told us last month.
Across the area, piles of burned trees still line the streets weeks after the final flares of the fires.
And with the return of high fire danger in an ongoing drought, Ingram knows it could happen again.
"With the Renaissance Festival, the other day my wife and I were talking, I'm worried about someone throwing a match out, throwing a cigarette out. They're not from up here, so we're definitely more concerned about it -- sparks of any kind," said Ingram.
"We have all our trucks in service right now, so we're in good working condition with all of our equipment," said Chief August Naumann with the Magnolia Fire Department.
He says their volunteer firefighters are still in recovery mode and reminds everyone that Montgomery County is still dry and dangerous.
"Do not burn. Montgomery County is still under burn ban," Chief Naumann said.
For Ingram and his family, it's a message that can't replay enough at a time when they're still trying to get back to normal.
Firefighters suggest creating safe zone around your house by pulling out dead leaves and pine needles and cleaning off rooftops.
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