Survivors reflect on anniversary of Bastrop County fire

Four years ago, Texas' most destructive wildfire started spreading through Bastrop County.

The fire took two lives and destroyed about 1,600 homes.  Since then, people in Bastrop County have been rebuilding hundreds of homes and replanting thousands of pine trees.

"In some ways it seems like it was ages ago, and in some ways it seems like it was yesterday," said Betsy Goggan who lost her home in the fire. 

 
Goggan remembers exactly what it looked like when the Bastrop County fire chewed through the pine trees in her neighborhood. 
 
"When it was coming towards our home it seemed like 200 foot tall flames and they were coming from the back of the property and it was getting closer and closer," said Goggan. 
 
"We just grabbed everything that we could as quickly as we could and got out," she added. 
 
Four years later, the land in Bastrop is starting to recover, but the fear that it could happen again is still burning. 
 
"I think that once you experience that, that feeling probably never goes away," said Goggan. 
 
Austin firefighters helped Bastrop County battle the flames in 2011. They said this year's heavy rain could create a dangerous fire hazard in Central Texas. 
 
"Nice trees, grass, and bushes, they grew. They were desperate for the water, so they grew, and grew, and grew and then the normal Texas summer crept in, and all that explosive grass is starting to dry out and die," said Lt. Andre De La Reza with the Austin Fire Department.  
 
Thursday, the US Drought Monitor listed parts of Travis County under the category "Severe Drought." 
 
"With that drought everything is just sitting there crackling. You can almost hear it in the Texas heat," said De La Reza.  
 
The drier the brush and grass in Central Texas gets, the higher the possibility that any small spark could turn into a large wildfire. 
 
"We're getting ready. We haven't pulled the trigger on standing up our brush trucks and everything like that, but everyone's trained, everyone went and dusted off our wildland gear and made sure everything is good to go. Our shovels and axes are sharp, we've got our water," De La Reza said. 
 
Back in Bastrop County the community and the land is starting to heal. 
 
"This year what I thought about was more so, instead of the pain of it, is the blessings that have come out of it; all the new friends we made, all the people who rallied around this community," said Goggan. 
 
Betsy Goggan said she always keeps an eye on the horizon, but her heart will always stay in Bastrop. 
 
"If we can survive this, you can survive anything. Because it was huge," said Goggan. 
 
Bastrop County is getting ready to apply for an almost $140 million dollar federal grant so they are more prepared in case there is ever another disaster in the area.  
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