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Bastrop Residents Grow Anxious Waiting To Return Home

Joey Dzienowski, a lieutenant with the Bastrop Sheriff's office, provides evacuees with information on their homes.
Photo by Mose Buchele, KUT News
Joey Dzienowski, a lieutenant with the Bastrop Sheriff's office, provides evacuees with information on their homes.

As a 30,000 acre wildfire burns out of control in Bastrop County, frustration is mounting among evacuated residents anxious to find out whether their homes have been destroyed. Public safety officials are pleading with people to be patient while passing along whatever information they can.

“We understand their concerns. We understand their frustrations,” Bastrop County sheriff Terry Pickering told KUT’s Mose Buchele. “It’s not something we can just say, ‘Okay let’s go.’ It takes a lot of planning and organizing.”

Pickering says officers are out patrolling the evacuated areas and are sharing any specific information they can recall. But Pickering adds that “obviously we can’t remember every address.”

Officials are working on compiling a comprehensive list of affected properties with an assessment of what is destroyed, damaged and untouched by the fire. But he says it’s still far too dangerous to allow people back into the evacuation zone.

“People have to realize that trees have been burned through. Power poles have been burned through, and [there is] the potential for that any of that stuff to fall on anybody,” he said.  

“We have aircraft still dumping water. You take 2,000 gallons of water. Water weighs, what eight pounds per gallon? That would be tons coming down on somebody in a vehicle, that would literally crush them,” he said.

Some people are taking matters into their own hands. One woman who lives in the Bastrop neighborhood of Tahitian Village set up a Facebook pagewhere people can request an update on the status of their homes in that specific neighborhood. Rachel Ross Youngblood is able to provide information with the help of her friend's husband, who is a state trooper.

Nathan Bernier is the transportation reporter at KUT. He covers the big projects that are reshaping how we get around Austin, like the I-35 overhaul, the airport's rapid growth and the multibillion-dollar transit expansion Project Connect. He also focuses on the daily changes that affect how we walk, bike and drive around the city. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on X @KUTnathan.
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