5 things for Houstonians to know for Friday, Dec. 11

Willow and the fire she found behind an outlet. (Caitlyn Radel-Paaby, Caitlyn Radel-Paaby)

Here are things for you to know for Friday, Dec. 11:

1. Firefighters battle large wildfires at national wildlife refuge in Chambers County

U.S. Fish and Wildlife officials said they are battling three large wildfires Thursday in the Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge in southern Chambers County.

Ryan Holzapfel, fire marshal for Chambers County, said multiple resources have been called to the scene by federal officials, but the county has not been asked for assistance.

The cause of the fire is unknown and no injuries have been reported.

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2. ‘Our house would’ve been up in flames’: Dog alerts family to small fire behind outlet

It seems as though, from time to time, we hear remarkable stories about animals rescuing or saving their family.

Meet Willow, a Great Pyrenees who did just that.

Caitlyn Radel-Pabby said if it weren’t for Willow, their home in Bel Air, Maryland, would have been destroyed by a fire that no one noticed.

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3. ‘It’s hard to even talk about it’: Houston-area nurse who lost family to coronavirus on crusade to get people vaccinated

As a COVID-19 vaccine nears approval by the Food and Drug Administration, a Houston-area nurse is encouraging her colleagues to get vaccinated once shipments arrive.

Irma Ikalina’s story of what the coronavirus has done to her family serves as the sad and sole reason she’s on a crusade to get people vaccinated.

Ikalina, her mother, her father, her daughter, and her mother-in-law chose nursing as a profession. That’s why finding the words to explain the goodbyes she has had to say hasn’t been easy.

“We lost my mother-in-law to it,” Ikalina said. “She was a retired nurse, as well. (We) lost my father last week, and my mom also is in the hospital fighting COVID.”

All were nurses, and while they didn’t contract the virus while on the job, Ikalina said it’s made doing the job a challenge. That’s especially the case for her daughter who just began her career in nursing.

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4. STAAR test will proceed, but no A-F ratings for 2020-2021 school year, TEA says

The Texas Education Agency has announced some major changes to the grading system for the current school year.

According to a news release, the TEA will be pausing the A-F ratings for the 2020-21 school year due to the ongoing difficulties brought on by the coronavirus.

“The issuance of A-F ratings for schools has proven to be a valuable tool to support continuous improvement for our students, allowing educators, parents, and the general public to better identify and expand efforts that are working for kids,” said Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath. “But, the pandemic has disrupted school operations in fundamental ways that have often been outside the control of our school leaders, making it far more difficult to use these ratings as a tool to support student academic growth.”

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5. 2 Texans become millionaires within 2 days with Texas Lottery scratch tickets

Two Texas Lottery players became millionaires in a span of two days, KSAT reported.

A resident in San Antonio claimed the $5 million prize with a $200 Million Ca$h scratch ticket from Texas Lottery this week, Texas Lottery officials announced last Monday, while another San Antonio-area resident claimed the top prize playing the $1,000,000 Extreme Cash game the next day.

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