Saturday marked one year since the Das Goat fire broke out in Medina County.
Over 1,000 acres were burned, including three homes on March 25, 2022.
“This is an ATV that is, you know, mocked up to be a fire truck and also a rescue vehicle,” Fire lieutenant Ramon Martinez with Medina County ESD 1 said.
The vehicle Martinez showed us can get where fire trucks cannot, through the thick brush in the rural land across Medina County.
It was a donation from a community grateful to their fire department.
“That’s a fire that’s going to affect this community for a long time,” Clint Cooke, fire chief for Medina County ESD 1, said.
Last year, a car sparked the Das Goat fire that burned for eight days, three homes were destroyed in the High Mountain Ranch Subdivision, and 1,092 acres are still left in ashes.
“We still haven’t received a whole lot of rain. And so, you know, seeing this as a visual reminder that we still face a major risk in this area for wildfires as well,” Cooke said.
Chief Cooke took us to Medina Lake and the water level shows just how dry things are.
One thing working in their favor is new full-time firefighters like lieutenant Martinez.
“Now that we’re here, you know, we can help, you know, continue to build so that maybe we don’t have that kind of fire, that big of a fire in the future,” Martinez said.
Two fire stations in the area are now staffed with a minimum of four people 24/7. Since the Das Goat fire, the volunteer firefighter base has also increased by 40 people.
“We cover 250 square miles. And so right now, we’re doing it out of four stations. Two of them are fully staffed. And, uh, but it just takes a little bit longer to get there,” Cooke said.
Cooke is confident the full-time firefighters can cut down on that time, but he said they need the community to help as well.
With conditions similar to last year at this time, the wildfire risk is still high.
“Burning any outdoor fires, it’s a risk right now. And if you see anything, report it quick,” Cooke said.