The student news site of Amarillo High School

The Sandstorm

The student news site of Amarillo High School

The Sandstorm

The student news site of Amarillo High School

The Sandstorm


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Helping the Fire Recovery Effort

Art teacher asking for donations to help Canadian Texas

As a way to help her hometown, Art teacher Darbi Jefferies is heading up a drive to help the residents of Canadian Texas in the wake of the recent wildfires that are burning across the Panhandle.

Many families lost their homes and belongings in the massive Smokehouse Creek fire.

“There were times growing up where my family needed things and other people jumped in to help us,” Jefferies said. “(Now) because we’re fine, we get to help now. If I can get supplies there then that’s one less thing they have to worry about.”

Students and faculty can donate in room 302 during March 4-8. Requested supplies include refillable water bottles, tote bags, backpacks and toiletries.

Wildfires spread across the Panhandle on Tuesday, Feb. 27, which left the city in danger of heavy smoke and possible evacuations.

Nearly 5,000 residents in Texas cities of Canadian, Fritch and Stinnett received orders to shelter in place while four major wildfires traveled through the Panhandle. There are five fires currently burning with the Windy Deuce near Fritch and the Smokehouse Creek fire at Canadian as the largest. The Smokehouse fire is now the largest in Texas history and the second largest in the nation, burning around 1,075,000 acres of land.  This fire is still strong and only 3% contained at the time of this article.

When the wind changed direction, ash and smoke infiltrated Amarillo.

“I was at theatre rehearsal (for) school,” senior Allison Price said. “The air smelled very bad and made it a little difficult to breathe.”

Senior Axel Willis was at theater rehearsal with Price and reports nearly the same.

“When I stepped onto the stage, the lights looked foggy and the air smelled like a stove had been left on,” Willis said. “Every time I took a breath I could feel the ash in my throat and after a while, my eyes began to burn.”

Wind speeds ranged from 20-30 mph, and peaked around 40 mph. Around 6 p.m. the KFC Franchise on SW 34th had ash coming through the drive-thru windows and lobby doors.

“I made some phone calls and realized that smoke was coming from the outer part of Amarillo, but I didn’t know fires were in Amarillo at the time,” Susana Arellano, general manager, said. “With the high winds they were coming into Amarillo, and we were being exposed to heavy smoke.”

The Mesilla Park subdivision received an administrative message from the Amarillo National Weather Service which requested their evacuation to Warford Center on 1330 NW 18th Ave. until 1 a.m. on Wednesday.

Snowfall on Thursday helped firefighters begin to contain the Windy Deuce fire to 50% but had little impact on the Smokehouse fire.  The area will be back under a fire weather advisory over the weekend as the wind and heat pick back up.

Overall, more than 100 houses and buildings have been destroyed and many families displaced after losing everything in the fires. Many herds of animals either perished or were moved to temporary locations. Outreach efforts have started to donate food and water to the first responders and necessities to those families displaced and feed to the farms that have taken in extra livestock.

If you would like to help in other ways many businesses, churches, and individuals in the Amarillo Area have set up donation points.

Amarillo Area Foundation has a Panhandle Disaster Relief Fund that is accepting monetary donations.

HF&C Feeds Amarillo has set up donation accounts at both locations.

There is a Facebook group called the Panhandle Wildfire Recovery & Resources that is helping organize donations.



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About the Contributor
Audrey Boissonneault
I am one of the head editors for newspaper and I do copy edits. I have been on the staff for 3 years now. Besides school and work, I like to ride my bike and play Dark Souls