When a wildfire threatened homes on the southern edge of the Great Plains, one family ran toward the danger. Even as their own livestock was at risk, they came to the defense of their neighbors. The couple used what they had on hand, a tractor and a Styrofoam cup, to keep the flames away from their neighbors’ house. And it worked.
The fire in Vici, Oklahoma took residents by surprise. “Thankfully we live in a community that there are so many people out here who have that kind of character,” Shane Payton said.
Shane Payton wasn’t at home when the fire broke out. His neighbors, Danny and Darlene Moss, were.
“Everybody had cattle. Everybody’s home was in jeopardy, and the Moss family, they have cattle just right up the road, and they were on their way to take care of their cattle whenever they saw our home almost on fire,” Payton said. “Everywhere around was in flames, and they stopped, and they took the time away from doing what they needed to do, their livestock to try to save our home.
Shane’s wife and two sons were at the house when the fire began, but she decided she would protect the children and left when the fire threatened their house.
“I got that last phone call saying the fire just crossed the highway, and we gotta go,” he said.
As they were leaving, though, the Moss family was on their way to the rescue.
“They have a tractor that was down at their property so they can move hay bales and such, and they went and got the tractor,” Payton said.
Danny Moss used the loader on the tractor to dig dirt which they dumped on the advancing fire.
“We were driving in smoke,” Danny told reporters. “You couldn’t see very far in front of you or anything else. The barn was on fire. Out in front of the house was on fire, and basically all we done was what neighbors would do is put the fires out the best we could. My wife took a Styrofoam cup and was throwing water on the barn.”
“They saved our house,” Payton said. “They’re very humble people. They don’t want any praise for it, and I’ve tried to thank them and get their story and they’re like ‘Oh, anybody would do it for anybody.'”
While Danny was working with the tractor, Darlene took on an even more challenging task. The barn had caught fire, and she put it out by dumping cup after cup of water on the rising flames.
“During the fires, you guys didn’t worry about your cattle. You were worried about saving our home, and I have no doubt you guys saved everything we have, our hopes and dreams we’ve worked for,” Shane told the Moss family.
“What are neighbors for? That’s exactly what it’s for. I’m speechless. I don’t intend to receive. I intend to give. That’s what we’ve been taught all of our life,” Danny Moss said.