The staff of Hemphill County Library is embarking on an ambitious project to document the wildfires of March 6, 2017. The Perryton Fire complex that originated in Ochiltree County and spread across Lipscomb, Hemphill, and Roberts counties burned more than 318,000 acres and was the third largest in Texas A&M Forest Service history. There were two homes lost and one fatality.
Librarian April Dillon says they hope to solicit people’s accounts of their fire experiences: the farmers and ranchers affected, the firefighters and county crews who fought the fires, and the relief efforts that have been ongoing since March. A room at the library will be set up for filming people telling their stories. Dillon urges folks to contact the library by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org; calling 323.5282; or by coming in. They also are asking for fire photos that they can scan.
Some of the stories will probably be transcribed for print, Dillon said. The library has access to an online database called Biblioboard. Dillon said she has seen the work done for a flood that occurred in south Texas several years ago. The stories were first chronicled online in photos and film, and were eventually printed in book form. “The whole project was highly successful,” she said, and documented a historic event that affected many communities.
College student Lauren Koetting is working at the library for the summer and will be in charge of gathering the stories and interviewing people. Dillon says she knows the work most likely will continue past summer. Another project in the library’s sights is digitizing a complete set of the Canadian High School annuals to Biblioboard.
To take a look at the site, go to the library’s website. “We want anyone, in any way connected to the wildfire, to let us put their piece of history in the puzzle,” said Dillon.
WILDFIRE PHOTO BY SARAH LONG