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First Responder Remembers Bastrop Wildfires

Updated: Tuesday, September 4 2012, 07:52 PM CDT

Driving through her patrol area on the outskirts of Bastrop brings the memories of September 2011 flooding back for Bastrop County Sheriff Deputy Molly Davis.

“Now that the anniversary’s coming up, it’s kind of like reliving all of this again,” says Davis, while driving near the state park just days before the anniversary of the fires, an area full of charred trees, home rebuilds, and the remnants of some homes that have never been cleared. “I get to see this every day I’m at work.”

On Sunday, September 4, 2011, Davis started her shift at 6 a.m.

“I got the call I believe at 2:36 p.m.,” recalls Davis. "I was actually on another disturbance call.  When i got to the address, I just saw smoke. It was just billowing.”

“I looked this way, seeing if there was any other fires over here, just trying to find the origin of the fire,” says Davis, standing on the street in front of the address where the fire sparked. “I was standing right about here, looking this way when I heard it. It sounded like a freight train. That's the only way I can describe it. I turned back around, and there was the fire. It was right on top of us."

Davis says it’s difficult to put the emotion she felt then into words.

"Complete shock. Awe. Scared.  I called my mother, told her that she needed to get her dogs, get her important stuff and get out. I said 'They're not going to be able to stop this fire, mom.'”

Davis and her co-workers started knocking on every door they could find.

"I had one man tell me that he was not leaving, and that if I didn't leave his property, he was gonna shoot me,” says Davis. “I was angry. I was like, ‘How can somebody just sit here and kill themselves?’"

About 45 minutes later, Davis says that same man called for help.

"I'll never forget this image in my mind: the fire truck was coming at me, coming out of the fire zone and the whole front of it was melted. You know those sad clown faces? That's what it looked like.”

“We got a call for an elderly lady stuck in a house.  By the time we found the address, we could no longer see. I just floored my car. Smoke started coming into the cars, and I was like, "I’m dead". If I would have stayed any longer than that, the whole “life flashing before your eyes” probably would have happened. I've never been so happy to see light."

Davis says not a minute went by when she wasn’t thinking of her family.
"It was just, ‘Is my daughter safe? Is my mother safe?’ I wanted so bad just to go home and hold her, but I couldn't leave."

That first day, Deputy Davis worked 18 hours straight. Sleep was a luxury that she couldn’t afford. She says she wasn’t able to get a good, sound sleep until at least six to eight months after the fire. Even though she tries to leave work at the office, Davis says the fire is never far from the minds of her entire family.

"I love Bastrop County," says Davis. There's not one thing that I think we could have done different. Who prepares for devastation like this? Yeah we go through our mass casualty incidents, but to actually have it in your face, it's just..." She pauses. “Wow.”

Despite the threat of another fire, Deputy Davis says she and her family plan to stay put in Bastrop County, having recently moved into one of the areas where the fire struck.

By Adam Bennett.First Responder Remembers Bastrop Wildfires

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Central Texas Wildfires - Bastrop Map

Central Texas Wildfires - Bastrop Map

Bastrop Anniversary Events

Tue. Sept. 4, 6:30 p.m.
A Night of Hope, Hyatt Lost Pines

An evening remembering the last year and looking forward toward a bright future. For tickets and more information contact Jennifer Long, 512-461-9418 or Sponsored by Bastrop County Long Term Recovery Team.

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