It was one year ago that a small spark changed the lives of dozens of families in Dyer Mills. The small Grimes County community lost more than 31 homes and more than 5,000 acres were scorched by wildfires. This week Grimes County Commissioners voted to approve a burn ban and prohibit some fireworks just weeks before Independence Day.
While some agree with the measure to only prohibit certain fireworks such as “bottle rockets” and “Roman candles”, others would like to see more done.
"If I had my choice no fireworks would be allowed,” said David Lilly, Grimes County Emergency Management Coordinator.
Lilly and residents like Linda Shidler, who lost her home to fire last year, want fireworks banned in Grimes County.
"We have not gotten enough rain out here to do that,” said Shidler. The Dyer Mills resident says sometimes when she walks out into her yard she doesn't know what season it is.
"There used to not be any sun at all. This was like complete shade,” said Shidler, “Every time my eyes drift up instead of seeing beautiful trees and birds, it's dead limbs. It's like winter."
It was one year ago, Shidler says the unthinkable happened. “My son says, 'wow!' look we're going to have rain. There's a big rain cloud! Then it started settling and we were like oh my gosh that is smoke."
In the heat of the summer, Shidler's world looked like the dead of winter one year ago, "It started snowing ashes,” she said.
Shidler and her family evacuated their home of 28 years. Days would pass before they could return not knowing what they would come home to.
"My husband was freaked out. He thought for sure the house would've made it," said Shidler
31 homes and 5,000 acres were turned to ashes. Shidler and her family lost everything, "We're talking no paperwork. No birth certificates,” she said.
Today, the Shidler family is trying to mend life back together. However, for her, even the warmest days can seem so cold, "It's like your whole life just gone,” said Shilder, "It's been the hardest year of our lives."
The Shilders used insurance money to purchase a mobile home and clean up some of their property. Linda Shilder says several volunteers from local churches also helped clean brush and find small items that survived the fire. The Shilders lost several pets who were trapped inside their home.
As of Thursday, June 14, 2012, Grimes County remains under a burn ban. Anyone caught burning could face a Class 'C' misdemeanor charge. Counties not under burn bans at the time this article was published include Brazos, Burleson, Leon, Madison and Walker.