GLADEWATER — “Hell. That’s what it looked like,” Greg Shepard said. “Everything was on fire.”
Looking over the charred remains of his family’s property Thursday, Shepard, his mother and other relatives were reliving the frantic dash this past Sunday to gather grandchildren and flee the rapidly advancing flames.
It was the same blaze that took the lives of a young mother and her baby.
Having been told the fire was contained, Shepard’s mother, Belinda Gober, was letting her grandbabies play outside when her other son came down the road and said it was time to go.
They gathered seven grandchildren and their pets and began to drive away from their land on Rosie Wady Road southwest of Gladewater.
“Parts of the street were on fire,” Gober said. “It was scary.”
The grandchildren, she said, were crying as they drove away — not to return for days.
The fire that torched the Gobers’ property was part of what officials are referring to as the Moore Fire. That blaze alone has burned more than 1,500 acres, destroyed about a half dozen homes and caused a few rounds of evacuations in its wake. It was one of dozens of wildfires that have burned through more than 50,000 acres of East Texas land this week.
In addition to losing their mobile home, the family lost a truck, motorcycle, four-wheeler, RV and most of their belongings.
Shepard on Thursday recounted some of what he lost as he carried Dakota, his 2-year-old nephew, around the land. They stopped by a truck that had been completely burned through.
“No more truck,” Dakota said to his uncle, holding out his hands, palms stretched upward.
For Shepard’s mother, it was difficult to come back and see the destruction.
“I’m not gonna lie,” Gober said. “I started crying.”
Still, she said she knows it could have been worse.
Just a few blocks from where Shepard and his mother lost a home, a fuzzy blue teddy bear and a golden statuette of an angel rest on the ground near a tree. The tree is in front of a home on Lincoln Springs Road where officials found the body of 20-year-old Valerie McBride and her 18-month-old baby.
Others on Rosie Wady Road were more fortunate.
Joanne Smith said as smoke worsened in the area, her husband told her to start packing. Not much later, they had to leave.
“We saw the flames coming across the pasture, so we got in the cars and left,” Smith said.
She was not optimistic when her family fled. “I really didn’t think we’d have anything left when we got back,” she said.
The family’s home was spared.
“I was very thankful, but I felt bad for the ones who did lose their homes,” Smith said.
But some who did also had reason to be thankful.
“I’m just grateful that we all made it,” Gober said. “All this stuff can be replaced.”