Abbott orders flags half-staff for fallen Panhandle fire chief

Gov. Greg Abbott has ordered the flags in the Panhandle city of Fritch lowered to half-staff to honor a fallen fire chief.

Chief Zeb Smith was the first to respond to a house fire in Fritch earlier this week. It was not directly related to the wildfires burning in that area.

Officials said Smith collapsed inside the home, suffering from a reported heart attack. He later died at the hospital.


Gov. Abbott honors fire chief killed in Panhandle fire

Texas Governor Greg Abbott offered his condolences to the family of a fire chief who died fighting a structure fire in the Texas Panhandle on Tuesday.

Smith was just 40 years old but had been on the wildfire lines for nine straight days prior to his death.

"Obviously, we all need rest. He took his breaks to rest and everything, but when he was on, he was out," said fellow volunteer firefighter Glen Wallis. "He went doing what he had a passion for."

"He was willing to put his own life on the line to save the property of others and that is what Texas heroism is all about," the governor said.


Utility provider says facilities appeared to have role in igniting fire

Utility provider Xcel Energy said Thursday that its facilities appeared to have played a part in igniting a massive wildfire in the Texas Panhandle that grew into the largest in state history.

Abbott called on other Texas communities to also lower their flags in Smith’s honor.

His funeral is at 11 a.m. Saturday.