Deputy Sergeant dies in Eastland wildfires after trying to evacuate residents

Deputy Sergeant Barbara Fenley dies in Eastland wildfires after trying to evacuate residents (Copyright 2022 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

EASTLAND, Texas – A deputy sergeant has reportedly died as she worked to help those in the Eastland community evacuate the recent catastrophic wildfires happening in West Texas.

Officials from the Eastland County Sheriff’s Office say Deputy Sgt. Barbara Fenley was killed March 17 after she was caught in the “extreme deteriorating conditions.”

On Thursday, March 7th, 2022 multiple fires erupted throughout Eastland County. One of the fires crossed into Carbon,...

Posted by Eastland County Today on Friday, March 18, 2022

Fenley was last heard from as she was headed to check on an elderly individual while massive flames continued to move across the area.

It is believed that the deputy’s vehicle ran off the roadway and was engulfed in flames.

Fenley, who was 51 years old, began her law enforcement career back in 2003 as a patrol officer, according to the sheriff’s office. She was then appointed in January 2007 as Gorman Chief of Police before becoming an Eastland deputy in 2013.

She leaves behind her husband and three children.

Gov. Greg Abbott extended prayers and sympathy to Fenley’s family during their time of grief. Abbott also agreed to have flags fly at half-staff in Fenley’s honor.

Flags at half-staff in honor of Deputy Barbara Fenley

Posted by Eastland County Today on Friday, March 18, 2022

The fires in west Texas merged to form what officials call a “complex” that was burning near Eastland, about 120 miles (195 kilometers) west of Dallas. About 475 homes have been evacuated so far.

As of Friday afternoon, the fires had burned about 62.5 square miles (160 square kilometers), according to Texas A&M Forest Service. It was only 2% contained and fires were burning in thick brush and grass fields.

No other casualties have been reported.

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About the Author:

Moriah Ballard joined the KPRC 2 digital team in the fall of 2021. Prior to becoming a digital content producer in Southeast Texas and a Houstonian, Moriah was an award-winning radio host in her hometown of Lorain, Ohio and previously worked as a producer/content creator in Cleveland. Her faith, family, and community are her top passions.