On Sept. 4, 2011, three Bastrop County brush fires merged to form what would become one of the county's largest disasters.

"This is a regrowth right here on both sides," said Mike Gernand, pointing to a tree in his front yard in Circle D-KC Estates, "where it's healing itself."

After the Bastrop County Complex fire in 2011, Gernand and his wife Catrina are healing too.

"I think it was one of the most scariest times of my life," Catrina added. The couple lives a few miles from where the fires started.

On that day, a neighbor came over to tell Mike he saw something strange in the air.

"And from the five-minute conversation I had with him it went from the light white smoke to a dark gray smoke," he remembered

Catrina was at work.

"Somebody said 'There's a fire out near 1441,' and I was like 'Um, excuse me that's where I live', so I went to the phone at the service desk," she said.

Mike took that call as he was gathering necessities around the house. That's when police arrived to evacuate them. The couple and their then 5-year-old daughter stayed with friends.

Mike came back home first.

"There was a pile of ashes on the concrete, that's all there was...I lost all of my buildings to embers in the air."

Soon after, Catrina returned and pulled a charred keepsake from the rubble.

"I loved this charm bracelet," she said, showing it off to KVUE's Tina Shively. "My best friend used to buy me charms, and my husband. I haven't tried to get another one yet."

But they did get another home.

"It's a 1985 slab and a 2012 house," Mike explained.

"I discussed with my husband, 'Maybe we should get a house somewhere else. I'm nervous about moving back there,'" Catrina added.

Catrina admits she's always on edge.

"Any disaster that happens I automatically panic," she explained.

Both are happy to have been spared by hurricane floodwaters that soaked parts of their city, and hope they never see a disaster like the 2011 fire again.

"The most important thing was that we all got out. Everyone was safe and we just took it from there day by day," added Mike.

More than 1,600 homes were destroyed, along with around 40 commercial buildings, during the Bastrop Complex Fire. The fire was declared contained on Oct. 11, 2011 after burning more than 34,000 acres.