'She paid the ultimate sacrifice to help people': Eastland Co. deputy dies trying to save others in wildfires, police say

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“I know she loved everyone, and she loved the community of Gorman and Eastland County,” the deputy’s son said in a Facebook post.

EASTLAND COUNTY, Texas — An Eastland County Sheriff’s Office deputy died while trying to save others from the Eastland fire Complex Thursday, according to the Cisco Police Department and the deputy’s son. 

“It is with very heavy hearts that today we learned of the death of one of our Eastland County Deputies who put it all on the line last night trying to save people from the horrible fires,” the Cisco Police Department said in the post. “Our sister Barbara Fenley will be deeply missed. She was a special servant and an attribute to our profession. We will kneel in prayer for her family, friends, and colleagues as they mourn. RIP dear friend, you will be missed.”

Fenley was 51 years old and a sergeant with the sheriff’s office.

So far, she’s the lone casualty of the fires in West Texas. 

Fenley’s son, Jon, thanked the community in his Facebook post for the outpouring of love and prayers.

“I wanna thank everyone for the thoughts and prayers, and I wanna thank everyone for helping us find mom,” Jon Fenley said. “Unfortunately, with the saddest news, my mom has passed away. I just ask that you give us privacy in this moment while we collect our thoughts. I love everyone and I know she loved everyone and she loved the community of Gorman and Eastland County.”

In Eastland, flags were lowered to half staff in remembrance of deputy Fenley. 

According to Jon, he last spoke to his mother Thursday afternoon. 

He said she was going to direct traffic in the area as evacuations mounted. 

“She was out helping,” Jon Fenley said. “I just think it got to the point where it wasn’t enough for her, I feel like she felt like she wasn’t doing enough because that’s how she is.” 

According to the sheriff’s office and her son, Fenley went to check on an elderly resident in the Gorman area, when she ran her vehicle off the road and was engulfed in the flames. 

The sheriff said that the visibility on the roadways wasn’t good Thursday night due to the smoke. 

Jon Fenley told WFAA that he started to worry when his mom didn’t answer his phone call. His family and other officials went out looking for her even. 

“You get that fear in the back of your mind, but you also remember that she’s smart and that she’s done this for so long and has always come home,” Jon Fenley told WFAA. “You think she’s out there getting the job done.” 

Unfortunately, Jon Fenley got a call Friday morning that his mother had been found. 

“I got a call and they told me they found the car and all that stuff,” he said. 

“Knowing everything, I’m proud of her. She paid the ultimate sacrifice to help people out. That’s the biggest thing that I’d like people to know.” 

He told WFAA that his mother raised him and two other siblings alone at times before meeting his stepfather. 

The two have been together for 18 years. Fenley also had two grandchildren, both are Jon’s children. 

“Seeing her with my kids,” Jon Fenley said. “That’s what she was all about. She knew how to live life and she instilled that in us.” 

Fenley was the police chief for Gorman at one point before joining the Eastland County Sheriff’s Office and had a law enforcement career spanning nearly 20 years. 

Jon Fenley told WFAA his mission now is to teach his children who their grandmother was, and how she died a hero with others on her mind.  

“That will never fade away. I want them to know how much she loved them,” Jon Fenley said.