It was September 4th, 2011. I was attending Marine Corps Communication & Electronics School in Twentynine Palms, California. We were doing our compTIA A+ certification while our instructor was browsing a news site. My instructor immediately started talking about a fire in Texas that was getting out of control, after reading for a bit she asked, “Montalvo, you’re from Bastrop right?” Confused as to why she had brought up Bastrop, I answered her “of course Sergeant, why?” Well…that fire she was talking about earlier? yeah, that was in Bastrop.
We got out of class early that day and she told me to make sure my family was okay. My family lives in the Del Valle/Cedar Creek area which is a few miles away from Bastrop so I knew the fires weren’t going to affect them but I still wanted to make sure they were okay. I called my mom to see how everyone was doing and she told me it was extremely cloudy in the area and houses a few miles away had started evacuating and my parents weren’t sure how to proceed.
Keeping up with the news on Facebook was unreal, countless friends I went to highschool with had the home they had grown up in. Around September 11th the fire had been 50% contained with about 1,500ish homes destroyed. The fire was 98% contained around September 27th, Two people were killed by the fire, which destroyed 1,673 homes and inflicted an estimated $325 million of insured property damage. On record it was the biggest fire in Texas history. I kept active conversations with a few hometown buddies to see how they were doing as well as providing emotional support. Being in California there was nothing I could do but watch the city I spent the greater years of my life burn to the ground.
A few years have passed and the Lost Pines area is currently experiencing another major fire. That itself will be another post once everything has blown over.