HOUSTON -- Tempers flared at a public meeting for wildfire victims in Grimes County Wednesday night.

While six areas had opened up for residents to return, a central zone remained restricted for safety reasons. Residents there were not allowed to go back home Wednesday.

It was standing room only, as 200 to 300 fire victims packed St. Joseph s Catholic Church in Stoneham. Things began well enough, as the crowd gave firefighters and emergency workers a standing ovation for their tireless efforts.

Several agencies and volunteer groups came forward to share information about assistance that would be available to fire victims. But as the meeting wound down, a few vocal critics demanded to be let back into their homes.

One elderly man said he was willing to take the risk of returning home and pointed to his military service.

I was ready to die for this country and you can t keep me from dying now, he shouted.

Plantersville Fire Chief Stanley Legge explained to the crowd there were safety concerns. He also did not want to risk firefighters lives to rescue someone in an evacuated area. The Forest Service plans to shore up the fire line and clear uncertain areas Thursday.

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