Families return to homes destroyed by Hidden Pines Fire

State & Regional

The Hidden Pines Fire has scorched more than 45,000 acres and destroyed nearly 70 homes in Bastrop County.

According to the Texas A&M Forest services, the wildfire was 80 percent contained Tuesday and the footprint of the fire was opened up to residents.

The week of wildfires displaced hundreds of people and for the first time since the fires started, families were allowed to go back home Tuesday to see what had burned in the last eight days. 

County officials warned that many people would go home to find nothing left, the life that they left behind would be gone.

“It’s still a little bit surreal,” Claire Turner said as she stood in front of the pile of rubble that was once her home.

She and her husband came to see if there was anything that could be saved but the trip turned out to be a ceremonious goodbye to the family’s home.

“In a way it gives closure to know that it really happened and that it’s really all gone,” Turner said this is just the start what will be a long process to grieve and move on.

The walls of the home collapsed in the fire and the kitchen stove stood out in the open air to mark where the family’s kitchen used to be.

The pots and pans the couple pulled out of the debris had melted together in the flames. Just about anything that could be identified was either burned or broken.

“It’s hard to see everything covered in ash and darkness,” Turner said.  

The one thing the couple really hoped to find had been turned into a pile of ashes— their 11-month-old daughter’s baby books.

“We didn’t grab that, and that was pretty special so that’s kind of sad,” Bryan Turner said.

Becca’s foot prints from when she was a newborn and many of the family first photo albums were inside the nursery. 

“It’s our stuff and there were definitely some memories lost in there…but it’s okay,” Turner said.  

Now, the young family is left with whatever they were able to grab and smash into suitcases before they were evacuated from Park 1C Road in Smithville, TX.

Four other homes on that road were destroyed in the wildfires but the Turners lost more than a house—they lived and worked at Camp Wilderness Ridge.

The thick line of trees that surrounded camp were scorched by the fire, stripped bare—just like most of the buildings on the property. 

County officials asked that people wait to begin cleanup and called Tuesday “a day for assessment.” After so much stress and loss, county officials said people need to come to terms with the damage and destruction in their hearts and minds before they start to do anything else.

The Turners moved to Camp Wilderness Ridge in 2012 and they helped rebuild after the 2011 wildfires. Now that the camp has been hit again, the Turners said they will once again be there to help rebuild the camp and their home. 

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