A lunch honoring local firefighters who fought the “Big L” wildfire south of Lipan in March, will take place from noon to 5 p.m. on Saturday, May 21, at 114 N. Caddo St.
The wildfire — which originally started on a ranch between Tolar in Hood County and Bluff Dale in Erath County — burned more than 11,000 acres and caused the evacuation of Lipan residents.
The luncheon was organized by Dawn Perales and Brandie King who are both members of Iron Maidens, an all-female motorcycle group that was formed as a way to give back to the local community.
Perales and King wanted to find a way to thank local firefighters for their bravery in battling the "Big L" fire and for risking their lives daily.
“It's gotta be scary trying to pack up what you need and wondering what you're gonna come back to,” Perales said, who is the founder of Iron Maidens. “Those guys risk their lives every day. Every call they go to, you don't know if they're coming back.”
The wildfire hit close to home — literally — to King, who said the fire was stopped “about a half-mile" from her home.
“Their (the volunteer firefighters’) family sacrificed a lot,” she said. “They don't get the praise, and they don't get the credit. They're volunteers, and they came from all over just to help fight the fires. They were sleeping, taking breaks on people's trampolines just to try to save their houses. They just mean a lot to me. They just don't get the praise or paycheck, and their families sacrifice a lot. I want to draw attention to them. I don't want them to feel like they do it for nothing.”
The firefighter appreciation lunch will include hamburgers, hot dogs, chips, lemonade and tea.
Raffle tickets will also be sold at the event for a chance to win a $200 Visa gift card, a $100 tool kit from Home Depot and a $100 gift certificate from Flames Seafood Bar & Grill.
The money raised from the luncheon will be donated to the Lipan Volunteer Fire Department.
Perales and King have volunteered their time to give back to nursing homes, churches and the Lipan food pantry. The duo even hosted a bike wash for Fairview Baptist Church, where they raised money to send 12 kids to summer camp.
“It’s a distraction from all the ugly in the world — and there’s a lot of it these days,” King said.
“Sprinkle that kindness around,” Perales said. “A lot of my customers (at Pam's Too in Acton) know that I ride a motorcycle and I'm covered in tattoos, but they don't care. They're like, ‘We know you got a good heart. That's all we care about.’”
King said she wants Hood County residents to come to the luncheon and meet every volunteer firefighter in person.
“If they don't know them by first name, they need to know them at least by face because they're important, especially within our community,” she added. “I just want to draw awareness to the volunteer fire department because they don't get enough credit for what they do.”