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Forged in Flames: KUT's History of the Labor Day Wildfires

KUT News; Filipa Rodrigues;; Reshma Kirpalani

The one-year anniversary of the Central Texas wildfires is fast approaching – Sept. 4. And with high winds from Hurricane Isaac currently prompting the same fire warnings seen before the outbreak of the blazes, the lessons learned from the fire couldn’t be more timely.

On Tuesday, Sept. 4 at 3 p.m., KUT News premieres “Forged in Flames: An Oral History of the Labor Day Wildfires,” an hour-long program featuring first-person accounts from people who were there.

Listen to the audio documentary from 2012:

In the lead-up to the anniversary, KUT News has been telling the stories of people whose lives were touched by the fire:

The Central Texas Wildfires, a Year Later

While Texas has been blessed with above-average rains so far in 2012, this time last year the state was in very different shape. For StateImpact Texas, KUT’s Terrence Henry looks back at what led to the worst wildfire season in state history.

A Narrow Escape From the Roaring Fires

The story of how one man survived the Pedernales fire Sept. 4 through quick thinking and a little luck is told by Spicewood resident Melvin Pulver and Debbie Opdahl.

Steiner Ranch Focuses on Rebuilding and Prevention

A little more than 30 people assembled recently in a cul-de-sac in Steiner Ranch, a planned community near Lake Travis, from student council volunteers from the local high school to highly trained firefighters. “As far as we’re aware of this is the first program of its kind in Texas, definitely in Travis County,” said John Durham, an assistant fire chief in Lake Travis. His team came equipped with chain saws, a Bobcat and a large dumpster, to help these volunteers cut down dead trees and supply them to a composting company that offered to take them for free.

Other Wildfires Burned While Bastrop Took Spotlight

Most of the nation’s attention was focused on the massive Bastrop Complex fire that raged throughout September. But in the first days of the wildfires, several burned out of control. One of those was in Delhi, in Caldwell County.

“Forged in Flames: An Oral History of the Labor Day Wildfires” airs Tuesday, Sept. 4 at 3 p.m., and Wednesday, Sept. 5 at 7 p.m.

Wells has been a part of KUT News since 2012, when he was hired as the station's first online reporter. He's currently the social media host and producer for Texas Standard, KUT's flagship news program. In between those gigs, he served as online editor for KUT, covering news in Austin, Central Texas and beyond.