News Roundup: A Coalition Of Texas Firefighters Is Headed To California To Battle Deadly Blazes

Our daily look at Texas headlines.

By Becky FogelAugust 8, 2018 11:33 am

The Standard’s news roundup gives you a quick hit of interesting, sometimes irreverent, and breaking news stories from all over the state.

Almost 100 Texas firefighters are headed to California to help battle wildfires, including the largest blaze in that state’s history: The Mendocino Complex Fire. The Texas A&M Forest Service made the announcement Tuesday.

The Texas Intrastate Fire Mutual Aid System, or TIFMAS, is organizing this deployment. Jeffrey Wittig is chief of the Oak Hill Fire Department in Travis County, and volunteers as a branch coordinator with TIFMAS.

“A personal thing for them is just to be able to help someone when they need it, is a very powerful thing,” Wittig says. “The other thing I would tell you is that at the root of all this is their sense of urgency and their commitment to what they do back home.”

Wittig says experience gained in California, will help these firefighters serve their own communities better.

“So no matter what happens in our local areas and our local communities in the state of Texas the firefighters that are here to protect those folks have seen things that prepare to handle whatever gets thrown at us.”

The firefighters hail from 29 departments in 20 counties. Those include Abilene Fire Department, Austin Fire Department, Lubbock Fire Department, and Galveston Fire Department.



Texas House members are continuing to examine the impact of opioid dependence and substance abuse in a series of hearings, ahead of the 2019 legislative session. Retiring Texas House Speaker Joe Straus formed the Select Committee on Opioids and Substance Abuse in 2017 to study this issue as overdose deaths increase in the state.

One area affected by opioid abuse is child welfare. Officials with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services told lawmakers Tuesday they often see a link between drug abuse and child abuse.

Kristene Blackstone is associate commissioner for Child Protective Services. She said it can be tough to get parents into treatment due to long waitlists and limited resources.

“We also see cases where a parent needs a bed in say, Lubbock, but the only bed available is in Houston, and parents can’t leave their jobs or kids,” she said.

The House Select Committee on Opioids and Substance Abuse meets again today.



Governor Greg Abbott has proposed changes to the bail system, aimed at protecting law enforcement officers. KWBU’s Will Burney reports:

“Speaking at the Texas Department of Public Safety in Waco, Governor Abbott explained the proposed Damon Allen Act named for a Texas State Trooper who was killed in the line of duty. Allen was shot on Thanksgiving Day, 2017, during a routine traffic stop. According to Abbott the bill is designed to make it difficult for repeat offenders to make bail.

“Under the proposed Damon Allen Act Texas would add the safety of law enforcement officers to the list of threats that judges must consider when setting bail. Now under this plan I am also calling for a statewide case management system so that judges and magistrates can have all the information they need before setting bail.”

The bill would also change which judges can set bail for felony offenses and some misdemeanors, like sexual assault. Only state judges would be allowed set bail in those cases.

You can watch the entire press conference here: