How the 2011 Bastrop County Complex Fire shaped how firefighters respond today

Bastrop County

BASTROP COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — Bastrop County Emergency officials expect to have the Regen Hill fire fully contained by Saturday morning.

The fire burned nearly 25 acres Friday. As of Friday night, it’s 90% contained, and people in about 20 homes near Cottletown Road were allowed back into the area after being evacuated.

The fire reminds people in the area of the 2011 Bastrop County Complex Fire — the most destructive in Texas history. What happened nine years ago now shapes how firefighters respond today.

Neighbors in the area say these first responders have their full trust.

Belinda Williams has had to evacuate four times because of wildfires in the area.

“2009, 2011, 2015 and today,” Williams said.

She and her husband lost everything in 2011 and had to spend the next year rebuilding their home.

“Losing everything in and of itself, when you put your trust and your faith in God, when you lose it, you lose it,” she said. “It is what it is; I think that’s kind of how I feel today, just as long as I could get my husband out.”

Friday’s wildfire was minor in comparison to the 2011 fire that burned down tens of thousands of acres.

This one grew to 25 acres and was started by a car fire on the side of the road. The fire was able to spread because of dry conditions.

The Texas A&M Forest Service said it was mostly contained using bulldozers. Officials say firefighters became more adept with using bulldozers to create lines of containment around fires because of the 2011 blaze.

“These are some of the best-trained firefighters you’re going to find anywhere in the country that handle these fires out here now, because they’ve been doing it so long,” Deputy Director of the Bastrop County Office of Emergency Management Christine Files said.

Williams, who says she has no plans to move, agrees.

“I believe that they learned a lot from the fire of 2011, in terms of containing it, because if they hadn’t contained it today, we more than likely would have lost everything again,” she said.

Emergency Management says this area has been under a burn ban the last two weeks. The agency says it’s still unsure of how the car fire started.

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