ALICE, Texas — In the 12 years that Grace Vasquez has lived at Casa Real in Alice, she’s never had to prepare to evacuate because of a fire.
Not too far away, a brush fire broke out on Tuesday near Highway 44 and Beam Station, about half a mile from Vasquez.
The Alice Fire Department recommended nearby residents voluntarily evacuate and Vasquez was prepared.
“It’s sad to think, you know, to think that you might lose everything, but then when you think about your own life, really, nothing else matters,” she said.
Vasquez prepared her medications, and got together her pajamas and slippers in a big bag. She said she could see and smell a lot of smoke from the fire, but didn’t realize until later how big the fire was.
“I was very calm because I knew, knew that no matter if it got closer or not, all the residents were being taken care of,” she said.
The fire did not reach Casa Real and they did not have to evacuate residents, but the administrators prepared by watering down the nearby grass so the fire wouldn’t spread to their assisted living facility.
They also prepared buses to transport residents, many who are elderly and disabled, to take them to a nearby facility they own.
“Most important is to assure them that we were doing everything possible for their safety and to get them into a safe place,” Martin Ornelas, the director of Real Inc. said.
Alice Fire Chief Patrick Thomas said he doesn’t know the cause of the fire, but it destroyed three buildings.
He said they worked with seven other fire departments to put out the fire, including the Orange Grove, Ben Bolt, Premont, Falfurrias, San Diego, and Freer fire departments.
“There isn’t a department around here that does not request mutual aid and work together with other agencies, whether it’s during a fire, before a fire, and sometimes even after a fire,” Chief Thomas said.
Vasquez said she took notice of all the teamwork in the area to put out the fire, saying she felt confident she would stay safe.
“There was a lot of teamwork taking place because everybody was busy doing something, everybody,” she said.