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After the Fire

Hi folks.  Sorry that I’ve been awol for a while now.  As you might have guessed, things have been crazy in my life lately.

First – we are doing OK.  Really.

Second – thanks for all of your kind words of support in the comments, it really has helped and meant a lot to me.

If you emailed me at the address for the blog, I’m sorry, but I still haven’t checked that account yet.  I’m doing good to keep up with personal emails at this point.  But, as things calm down in both my life and my mind, I hope to check and answer and…

So, I took a few pictures during/after the fire.  I thought that I’d share them with you all…

These are a few pictures of the smoke.  We were in the city of Bastrop at the time, driving east towards the fire, foolishly thinking that we might be able to get back into our house – on the same day that the fire started.  At this point, no one knew how big this thing would become.

There’s smoke and then there’s smoke clouds like these – they literally took up 3/4 of the sky when looking that direction. (This one was taken while I was in the car – part of the dash is in the top left.)

This is a picture of the sun as seen from our friend Lisa’s house, where we first evacuated to on Sunday.  While not showing well in the picture, the sun was literally RED.  Not a sunset red, but a high in the sky red.

Right after the start of the fire, one of our neighbors had snuck back into the neighborhood (there were police baricades everywhere) and fought the fire on their property.  They saved their house, but barely.  Huge black scorch mark up to the roof on one side…

In the process of being there, they found our cat, Chiquita.  They said that our house probably burned on Monday night or Tuesday morning (we were about a mile north west of the origin of the fire, so we got hit by the back burn and flares and not by the main thrust of the fire which was going south by a very strong north wind) and found the cat on Wednesday.  She is alive, but has burned paws.  As they would not be allowed back in to the area should they have left, they stayed and fought the fire and took care of the cat as best they could.  I totally agree with that decision….

Our cat is still in the vet hospital with her burned feet.  I tried taking her home after a vet in San Antonio (who didn’t charge us at all for boarding and care) released her when we got the RV, but her feet got worse… It’s hard to find a place for an injured cat in a small space!  After she left bloody footprints all over my new sheets (my only set) on Sunday, I took her to a local vet Monday morning where she will stay for at least 2 weeks until her feet are much better…  It’s hard not having her here, but it’s easier on Rosie who got very upset with her sick kitty.

So, on to the pictures of what is left.  These are pictures that I took on re-entry day, 8 days after the fire started, a week ago this past Monday.

This is the view from the road at our driveway…

From the driveway looking east towards the garden.

A close up of the garden – it had been a raised bed edged in cedar logs from our property.  We just put this in this past spring.

The cat food feeding area (fenced off from nosy dogs and a 3 year old kid) also got burned… the plastic water thing didn’t do so well.

This is the plastic toddler basketball hoop and the John Deere metal tricycle that Rosie got for her 3rd birthday in May.

A ceramic turtle that I got this summer at a yard sale… it was by the front picket fence.  I brought him with me and he is sitting in front of our RV now.  My green frog wasn’t so lucky though.

This is from the front of the house looking at what is left of the laundry room.

The refidgerator.  Notice the broken Fiestaware dishes on the bottom left.  I’m pretty sure we left lunch out on the bar when we evacuated.  The sink and dish drainer are on the left.

Pans.  These are the cast iron pans (which we’ve salvaged – we’ll see if I can save them) but the stainless steel Emerilware that I got for my wedding melted.


Metal parts of the vintage toddler chairs in what is left of the living room.

Rosie’s room as seen from the porch.

The metal bookshelf thing from my bedroom.  Melted beyond salvage.

To the west of the house was a couple of sheds – one work shed and another storage shed.  The storage shed is totally gone, but this is the metal roof left from the work shed.  (Russ is on the left, the USAA insurance adjuster is on the right.)

And Russ’ truck.  We had our first date in this truck – I spent lots of time with Russ in this thing… very sorry that it met its end like this.  Russ said that it burned so hot that the alluminum transmision melted.  I think that we’re going to use it as yard art.  Will post pictures of that in a later post.

This is west looking at our neighbors yard.  They had a metal roofed 2 story house with a shed next to it…

Looking west towards the burned neighbor.

This is the east side of the yard.  The neighbor to the east, at the very end of our dead end road, somehow survived the fire.  Not sure how or why but I’m glad that they’re OK.  (My lens cover kept screwing up, that’s what the black part is… stupid camera finally died that day.)

This is the gate into the back 2 acres.  We have 3 acres but lived on the front 1 acre.  You can see that the fire burned through the back of this, too.

And this is what the house looks like from that back gate.


This is what is left of the pop-up camper.

Rosie’s play area in the back yard somehow survived.

But the clothesline?

And the new hummingbird feeder…

As you can tell, there’s not much left.  A US Forest Service guy drove by and talked to us when we were there.  He said that our trees, being more drought tolerant than most pines, needed only 15% green on them to survive.  I am not sure many, if any, of the trees made it.  There are a few along the road side but…  Russ said that some of the little trees in the center driveway circle, where the fire wasn’t so bad, they seem OK.

But, it STILL hasn’t rained here.  We need to get out and water what is left in an attempt to keep something green in the area.

So, the big question – are we going to rebuild?  And, I don’t think so.  We are going to clean up the lot, cut down the dead trees and then once it’s safe for kids and dogs, move the RV over there. After that… who knows.

Our friend, Katie, who is letting us invade her yard and life by parking the RV right next to her house – she is GREAT.  BUT, her yard is still flamable.  At least at our property, it’s all burned.  It might be ugly, but it feels safer.

So, that’s it for this post.  I’ll write more about what it’s like, what to give and not to give to disaster people, issues and … all kinds of fun stuff.  It’s a whole new perspective but it is important and I hope that you stick with me as I take this journey through the recovery.








6 responses »

  1. Oh my. Reading this and viewing the photos humbles me. I will be praying for you and your family. I am sorry this happened to you. I am happy that you are safe.

  2. Truly unbelievable. It’s so strange that some things survived unscathed, while others are completely gone. I know it’s just “stuff”, but still…what an emotional toll this must have taken, and the recovery could take awhile. Hang in there! I have presents for you. : )

  3. Still praying for you… it’s so weird that the fire would obliterate you and your neighbor’s houses (and dozens of others) but leave the trees standing… do they have any explanation about that?? it’s just weird to me.. you’d think the trees would burn too..

    Hang in there… and blessings..

    • Annie – the trees might be standing, but they’re still dead. I think that it’s just hard to see that in the pictures. Which is why, this weekend, the dead trees are all being cut down. It’s too big of a risk for them to fall in an area where people might be at… The fire destroyed to ashes previously dead trees, which we had 3 of them but… In our area, the fire intensity was lower, so except for right next to the house, most pine trees only turned brown (on the needles). In other areas with more wind when it burned, the trees didn’t have any needles at all and even worse, there are vast areas (some within a mile or so of our house) where there are no branches on the trees anymore. So, it just really depended on how intense the fire was at the time. Regardless, they’re all still dead and very soon, they will have to be cut down. Of course, in areas like ours, the new fire threat is all of the browned needles dropping to the ground, creating more flamable materials…

  4. Oh, it just makes my heart hurt. I am so sorry.

  5. All that ash! So much ash. I live in SoCal and it burns pretty much annually. Sometimes the winds will carry the ash to where I live (far, far from the fires) and it will rain ash as we’re walking around. I didn’t occur to me that it would be so thick in the places where everything burned. But of course it would.

    Oy. I’m babbling. I am so very sorry. I know you’re just thrilled to have your family safe and healthy (kitty! The kitty survived! Praise the Lord!), but there’s no way this hasn’t rattled your bones. I wish I could wave a magic wand! I look forward to reading your “dos and dont’s” to help, and please let us know if there’s anything we can do to help you. (Unless that’s something I shouldn’t say! Oy.)


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