Bastrop church turns charred trees into pieces of recovery


by JADE MINGUS / KVUE News and photojournalist ROBERT MCMURREY

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Posted on March 2, 2012 at 7:24 PM

Updated Monday, Nov 25 at 11:23 PM

BASTROP, Texas -- A church in Bastrop is turning dark reminders of the wildfire into pieces of recovery. Timberline Fellowship bought a portable sawmill to transform charred pine trees into usable lumber for wildfire victims.

Volunteers work in the backyard of the church Monday through Saturday. Pastor Gordon Friday spends most of his time covered in sawdust driving a tractor to haul logs. He still preaches on Sundays. The church has given away thousands of dollars worth of lumber for free.

“I can't tell you how many people have hugged my neck with big tears in their eyes and say, ‘Oh, you don't know what a blessing this is.’”

The Bastrop wildfire burned several homes along Highway 21 but spared the small, white church in the country. Flames did burn 31 trees on Timberline Fellowship’s property. The church used the insurance money to buy a sawmill.

Volunteers turn huge piles of burnt pine logs into usable lumber. Victims of the wildfire can request any size of wood they want at no charge. The pieces of pine are suitable for porches, steps, or sheds.

“I was the first recipient of these logs, and some I cut myself,” said volunteer Dennis Kane. Kane is a member of Timberline Fellowship and in the past has volunteered in disaster situations across the country. However, Kane lost his home and his workshop in the 2011 Bastrop wildfire. He used the wood to rebuild his workshop and now uses his time to turn his loss into love.

“To sit around and mop and cry about it, that's a waste of time,” Kane said. “Turn it into something good. That's what we are doing here.”

Pastor Friday said the church will continue cutting charred timber until the church fills the needs of a waiting list. Those who come and volunteer typically get their order filled first.

Requests can be sent to Volunteers of all skill levels are needed to meet the needs of wildfire victims.