Firefighters train in Bastrop for wildfires

Wildfire training for Texas firefighters

BASTROP, Texas -- It's been a little more than a year since wildfires destroyed more than 4,500 acres near Bastrop, including several homes.

While some are still working to rebuild, firefighters across the state are preparing in case it happens again.

John Ertz lives in the Lost Pines. He showed KVUE his home on Tuesday, which is finally rebuilt after it was destroyed in the 2015 Hidden Pines fire.

 

 

He's lived there for 20 years, but his first home survived the fires in 2009 and 2011.

"This was the kitchen, I decided to go with the same type of cabinets,” said Ertz as he looks through photos.

While some of his neighbors have chosen to not rebuild, he doesn't have any plans to leave.

"It's been coming back really nice, the beauty berries, the Texas beauty berries are doing wonderful,” said Ertz.

Ertz also doesn't plan to leave his position as a volunteer firefighter. While he was working to save other homes last October, the flames got to his.

"You know it is what it is,” said Ertz.

Because of his stake in the community, he wants to continue protecting it. It's one of the reasons he went to the 19th annual Capital Area Interagency Wildfire and Incident Management Academy at Camp Swift in Bastrop for the 19th year in a row.

"Its valuable information and training,” said Ertz.

Almost 400 students come to Bastrop from all over the country.

Kari Hines, with the Texas A&M Forest Service said the Bastrop fires have added to their knowledge to share.

"We understand fire a little bit better and we can teach it better in the classroom,” said Hines.

Tuesday crews dug a fire line and set a controlled burn.

 

 

Instructor Larry Weaver said since the big Bastrop fires, they've seen more city and volunteer firefighters go through the wild land fire training.

"It came pretty apparent in 2011 that it can, that wild land fire definitely can affect what goes on in cities and communities,” said Weaver. 

The training is managed like an actual wildfire and helps firefighters learn and practice safe wild land firefighting.

Students range from skilled firefighters to civilians.

As for those rebuilding from the 2015 Hidden Pines fire, several chose to not come back. Others, like Ertz, said they won’t leave.

The Long Term Recovery Committee has helped several homeowners rebuild, and as of Tuesday said they only have one more home to work on.


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