BASTROP, Texas — Nearly every member of the Heart of the Pines Volunteer Fire Department lost their own homes in the Bastrop blaze. The small agency is wedged between Smithville and Bastrop.
By Wednesday night, the department learned 20 of the 24 firefighters were without a place to call home.
“We live in the woods. The woods burn. They burn,” said Scott Sutcliffe, an assistant chief with Heart of the Pines.
Sutcliffe and his wife are among those who’ve lost everything. Yet they and their colleagues continue to fight the flames with dozens of other firefighters from across the country.
The personal losses weren’t the toughest part for these volunteer firefighters.
“We had no water. The water system went down. We can’t fight the fire without water so we were having to makeshift and do what we can,” added Sutcliffe.
The Heart of the Pines VFD lost tons of equipment to the Bastrop blaze. On Wednesday, fire crews spent the day trying to rehabilitate the equipment that they could.
“We’ve always needed support. People don’t support agencies anymore. Nobody volunteers. We can’t get volunteers, it’s a simple as that,’ he said.
When asked what advice he would share with other Central Texans, Sutcliffe said, “Buy insurance and buy a fire safe, that’s what saved my backside. You’ve got to move on. It’s just stuff.”