Evacuated Lake Meredith area set to reopen Wednesday - KFDA - NewsChannel 10 / Amarillo News, Weather, Sports

Evacuated Lake Meredith area set to reopen Wednesday

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Fritch, TX - Displaced residents in Fritch finally received some answers as to when they can return to their damaged subdivisions at a public meeting on Tuesday.

After three days of evacuation, the Texas A&M Forest Service said residents will be able to access all previously evacuated areas Wednesday morning at 10 a.m. Although many residents are frustrated, officials said the prolonged evacuation has been in their best interest.

"We've had over 100 Xcel workers putting in over 200 new power poles, we've had a lot of hot spots, and we've had all kinds of dangers," said Hutchinson County Chief Deputy James Qualls. "And there's still a lot of dangers, but the fire is down enough now to where we think it's safe enough to go ahead and let people in to be able to go into their property."

Only residents will be admitted into the Lake Meredith area Wednesday morning. All residents must show proof of an address, whether that's their license or a utility bill from the city.

"We're going to have all traffic going in on Fritch Fortress Road," explained Qualls. "We have concrete barriers set up at Griffin Lane. They will go in through there with their ID checked and when they want to leave they just go out Fritch Drive, no ID checked, they're just leaving."

Once residents are given enough time to survey their property, others will be allowed in as well.  To help in the cleanup process, the First Southern Baptist
Church will have disaster relief crews available on Thursday.

"We'll have crews here who are certified to be able to go into those areas to help clean up their homes and even do what we call an ash cleanup, which means we can sift through the ash to help find their valuables and belongings," said Pastor Calvin Winters. Interested residents can fill out an application at the church to request the free service.

In the meantime, the Red Cross and the Salvation Army will continue their food and shelter services at the high school.

As of Tuesday evening, the Texas A&M Forest Service said the wildfire is 85 percent contained.

Madison Alewel - NewsChannel 10