"Firefighting is a brotherhood. We remember the fallen, and we make sure that we honor their memory," said Dumas Fire Department Chief Ronald Pray. The Dumas Fire Department, along with the Sunray Volunteer Fire Department and the Valero Emergency Response Team, will be conducting a ceremony to pay tribute to the 19 who died in the line of duty on July 29, 1956 fighting the Shamrock McKee Refinery fire and explosion, the fourth deadliest industrial/structural fire in United States history. Only three other incidents, including 9-11, killed more firefighters than the McKee disaster, according to Pray. The ceremony will take place on July 29, 2019 at 7:00 pm on the lawn of the Moore County Courthouse near the memorial that was erected in the wake of the tragedy.
Lieutenant Anthony Anderson of the Dumas Fire Department has participated in the annual ceremony five times. "The biggest thing that we want to represent is just the fact that we haven't forgotten what happened and the toll it took," he said.
"It helps the families remember their loved ones and the sacrifice they made to protect our community," added Pray. "We will go to the courthouse and have some prayers, read the names, and talk a little about that day." Pray says it is important to learn from history. "We learn from, unfortunately, the other people that perished before us and how things went wrong and how to not do those same things, so we don't die in fires."
In a press release, the three fire departments that lost firefighters on July 29, 1956 are encouraging members of the public to join with them Monday to "pay homage to the lost and honor the bravery of these men who rushed forth into the flames to protect their community."