Hidden Pines Fire – Day 3

View from near my house on Day 1

So, today I decided to write about the fire.  Mostly to document and to share with all of you what is going on.  At the time of this writing, we are safe and out of harm’s way.  Tomorrow, due to shifting winds, that may not be the case. But for now, we are safe.  And as always, we are in God’s wonderful hands.

Til now, no lives have been lost.  27 homes have been destroyed and the fire that started out as 8 acres has turned into 4,383 acres.  The shifting winds have exacerbated fire fighting efforts. The damages from the flooding that happened over Memorial Day weekend haven’t even been fully dealt with yet (at least not at my house and a few others that we know).  The rain that we welcomed in the Spring was followed by severe dryness.  That means that vegetation grew and then died, becoming fodder for the fire.

When we first moved here, we moved into a desolate-looking environment.  The area our house was in, was a forest of dead, burnt trees.  The city/county had been ravaged by a fire in 2011 and the effects were still incredibly evident. In fact, my daughter said we lived “in the spooooooooky woods!”  Although there were burnt trees all around, the area was growing and was vibrant. We have been here a year and already over 20 houses have been built in our “neighborhood” area.  But three days ago, a fire started, igniting more than just trees.

As of 10-15-15

People here have traumatic memories.  The fire of 2011 burnt over 34,000 acres and destroyed over 1,600 homes. We personally know some of the families that lost their homes.  Our property has half burnt tree stumps where the fire skirted our property line. There is not one person here not remembering those horrific events.

True, this fire is different. But the damage is the same. And the fear, stoked by memories, is intense.

On day 1, my daughter and I watched the fire from our swing in the back yard.  By yesterday morning, we couldn’t play outside because of the smoke. The winds shifted, and the smoke/fire followed, blowing away from us and right toward the burnt out areas from the previous fire.  Beuscher Park had been badly damaged and Bastrop State Park (a park that is still struggling after the last fire) was in the fire’s sights.

Today, Bastrop Park is now part of this fire and some neighborhoods that were previously destroyed in the 2011 fire are in direct line. But that could change tomorrow.  And that is also fueling fear.  Because of the erratic wind patterns, the fire is hard to manage and hard to predict. People aren’t sure where the fire is going to head and they panic.

But I will say that the emergency agencies are doing great.  Through social media, normal media, door-to-door, and more, they are keeping the public informed with GOOD information.  I have to say we are impressed.

So far, I’ve been talking about the fear of the community.  Many of you have expressed your concern for me and my family.  We are slightly worried.  Due to our personalities and job training, we tend to go into crisis-fix mode.  We start preparing. Packing up a little here and a little there. Talking out our emergency plans. Figuring it out. Gathering supplies for the fire fighters. Teaching our daughter how to listen to officials and how to act in an emergency.

But that fades a little when you drive down the road and see a billowing, dark, black cloud straight ahead of you.  You know that although the cloud looks like the storms of your childhood that produce fierce winds and tornadoes, it’s not.  This is something else.  It’s the result of a raging fire.  But instead of turning around, you drive straight into it.

Although this is something that my husband and I would frequently do in our younger years, it is quite a different feeling when you have your child in the back seat. It is ominous.

But drive into it we did. And driving toward the orange skyline at night, is just as creepy. And it isn’t even at our house yet.

Today, the fire is now 3 miles (as the crow flies) from our house.  The fire has kept to the other side of the interstate, keeping us in the safety zone.  As the winds shift tomorrow, we will be vigilant. Until then, we help out where we can and we pray for those in the path of the fire and those protecting us from it.

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