Tuesday, February 7

‘That’s where I grew up… And now it’s gone’: Carbon residents reflect on fire damage


CARBON, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Residents returning to Carbon, Texas have called the devastation from the Eastland Complex Fires, an “apocalypse,” hitting their small town as 45,000 acres of land have been destroyed by wildfires.

Scott and Bobbie Lewis couldn’t believe their eyes when they approached what was once their family home, smoking rubble was all that was left.

Scott Lewis had been on a job in Midland when the raging flames blew into Carbon and Gorman, while Bobbie, their two kids and their dog were preparing to evacuate.

“The whole town was black and the sun was gone,” Bobbie described the Carbon streets as smoke blew in.

Bobbie loaded up her kids and dog, and followed her father-in-law out of town. She said she was bumper-to-bumper with him, but still had trouble seeing the bumper of his truck, just feet away, through all the smoke.

The Lewis family arrived at a small hotel in Cisco, then went with dozens of families to the local Wendy’s restaurant, searching for answers. They asked questions like, “is my family safe,” and “will my home be alright?”

It was early in the morning, around 4:00 a.m., when Scott Lewis arrived at the hotel, coming back from his Midland work trip. Scott arrived, immediately greeted by his two kids.

“It was heartbreaking to know they were just happy that I was there,” Scott said. “They weren’t worried about everything we lost, they were just happy we were all together.” 

Lewis was greeted by a glimmer of hope, which they carried on their trip back to their home.

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Knowing their house was destroyed, the Lewises checked in with their family members, to which they received a negative response.

“Most of my family lost it all,” Bobbie said. “It’s just hard to wrap your head around.” 

Her brother, uncle and late grandmother’s houses were all heaps of smoking rubble. Nothing was left of theirs or their friends’ homes.

“So many have nowhere to go right now,” Bobbie said. “They don’t have family here. They don’t have a place to stay, they’re just homeless basically.” 

A punch to the gut for the Lewis family, but still, there was hope to be found.

For Bobbie, on her mad dash out the door, she grabbed her grandmother’s pillow covered in red, orange and yellow flowers. It was the pillow her grandmother slept atop as she took her last breath, and the only memento left from her grandmother’s home.

For Eric Monk, he moved to Carbon when he was 13 years old. When I approached him, he was kicking around the rubble of his childhood home.

Out front, a Dish satellite lay on the ground right next to the fallen power lines. In the house, the only thing left in tact was the torched oven and bathtub, covered in ash and dust.

“That’s where I grew up… And now it’s gone.” Monk said.

Monk not only saw the destructive nature of this fire, but also the fire that ripped through the Carbon community in 2006.

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“The first one didn’t actually make it through the town,” Monk said. “This is the first time I’ve seen anything like this.” 

Right next door, Monk had been doing work on his mother’s new home. While the flames grazed the home, it went completely unscathed because of construction work that happened two days prior.

“They had just entirely dug up the back of her house,” Monk said. “I mean its completely dirt back there. Had we installed it at a different time, her whole entire house would’ve burnt down.” 

Both the Lewis family and Monk shared the same sentiment, however, that the small town of Carbon would bounce back. They both said their small community was like a family, and surrounding communities like Eastland and Cisco were already bringing in added support.

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