SMITH/GREGG COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - We've seen these East Texas fires take a toll on our land and the people who live here for weeks now, but they're also putting many volunteer fire fighters in a tough place.
Most have full time jobs that have nothing to do with the fire department. They tell KLTV living their every day lives while fighting fires daily is becoming quite the balancing act.
"It's tough but you know... somebody has got to do it," said Winona Volunteer Fire Department Chief Nelson Brumley.
He said these fires have left most fire fighters working around the clock. They're trying their best to split time between jobs that pay the bills and fighting fires that threaten lives.
"I get off work, work all night out on the fire, then I come to work and get another fire call. I have to leave work and take my vacation time to keep my paycheck up while I go fight another fire and then come back, no sleep, and work some more doing the same thing day after day," said David Hiett, another Winona Firefighter.
"My supervisor has been a bit lenient because he knows what I do and he knows about the fire danger and situation. He does respect that, but at the same time we have schedules and deadlines to meet and I have the same responsibility here as I do there," Brumley said.
But others haven't been so lucky. Josh Rarrick is a truck driver and former firefighter who took time off work to help fight a massive grass fire in Diana. But, that decision got him in trouble and ultimately cost him his job.
"When I started fighting fires as a volunteer fire department member, that was one of the oaths we took-- that we would always help," Rarrick said.
He said he'd do it all over again.
"When your neighbor's house is in trouble... when your family and friends are in trouble... if you don't stand up for them and if you don't go out and respond and you know how to handle the problem that they have-- that's wrong," Rarrick said.
While he lost his job, he said keeping faith in God will carry him through.
"There have been times when I've gone without, and I've never gone completely empty so we're just going to take it one day at a time," he said.
Rarrick said he and his fiancee are staying in a Longview motel while he looks for another job in the area.
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