Bastrop Co. residents welcome burn ban after 2011 wildfires


by SHANNON MURRAY / KVUE NEWS and Photojournalist Chris Shadrock

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Posted on July 6, 2013 at 10:24 PM

Updated Sunday, Jul 7 at 2:49 PM

BASTROP COUNTY, Texas -- Evidence of the devastating 2011 wildfires is everywhere in eastern Bastrop County.  Those terrifying memories are the reason most people who live there welcome the burn ban.

A brick chimney is still standing where someone's home once did. Charred trees rest black against the backdrop of the blue sky. All serve as reminders of the wildfires that ripped through this community in 2011.

In the middle of it all, on this hot summer day, the Knopik family is cooling off at their home in eastern Bastrop County.

"The weekend of the wildfires, it was very traumatic," said Clark Knopik.

The fires destroyed nearly 1700 homes. The Knopik family considers themselves lucky/

"One of about 8 houses here that made it.," Clark explained.

Their house suffered some smoke damage, and broken windows.

"In the neighborhood obviously all of the trees are gone," Clark said. "We're probably one of the lucky ones that have a couple trees left."

Still they say it's a different neighborhood now. Many of their neighbors didn't return, some of those who did had to rebuild from the ground up.

"It's been a rough couple of years," Clark said.

Most of Central Texas is still in a drought. On Friday the Bastrop County judge issued a burn ban. Many families, including the Knopiks, are glad.

"There's still a lot of fuel in the area so we're kind of on our toes most of the time," Priscilla Knopik said.

"About a mile over there's the forest," Clark pointed out. "It's just like when it burned last time. It only takes 1 screw up and it's just not worth it."

Under the ban,  no outdoor burning is allowed. It's in effect for 7 days and county commissioners will consider an extension on Monday.