‘Flames all around me’: Lubbock couple tells story of surviving wildfires in Yoakum County

Published: Apr. 1, 2022 at 9:23 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - A Lubbock couple is now looking for two new cars after their vehicles were destroyed in the Yoakum County wildfire on Tuesday.

Robin Long, his wife Marsha and their dog Sassy were on their way back from New Mexico in separate cars. Robin was hauling a trailer. He saw the flames moving fast in the distance, thinking he could outrun it, but the fire soon caught him.

“I’m driving along and then just in a split second, I’m just completely blinded. You can’t see anything, all I see is just brown and black,” Long said.

Long pulled over on Highway 380, completely surrounded by the grass fire, sitting in a vehicle with a full tank of gas.

“It’s all flames around me. It looks like one of these movies where they turn on the gas and the flames just start going. So then I’m up against the flame and I thought, I’m either going to sit in my truck and burn up or try and get out and make a run for it. Then I can’t get my door open because I’m up against the fence,” Long said.

Robin got out with his dog Sassy and his cell phone. Shortly after, he found his wife stumbling into the trailer.

“Before she can even say anything, her car explodes. And it’s just a ball of flames. Sand hit me in the face, flames everywhere. And we said we’d decided we were going to burn up. I mean, there wasn’t any any two ways about it,” Long said.

Then, Robin’s truck exploded. Nearly an hour passed as the couple walked aimlessly in the wrong direction, then Robin called for help. Dispatchers used a GPS system to track them, and told the family to turn around back to the highway.

“Sassy didn’t want to walk anymore. I’m trying to drag her with one hand, talk on the cell phone with the other and you’d have to kneel down because the wind was blowing so hard it would just knock you over,” Long said.

Eventually, EMS found the Long family on the highway. Robin and his wife were treated at the Lovington Hospital, but ultimately, they were healthy. Sassy’s paw pads had been completely melted off and she continues to recover.

Thankful to be alive, Long advises people to not underestimate Mother Nature.

“The best thing to do is just stop, turn around, take another route,” Long said.

Yoakum County deputies evacuated homes in the area. New Mexico fire officials report that the grass fire burned over a thousand acres.

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