|View from Austin of Bastrop Fire|
I tweeted earlier today about the sister of a dear friend that has a house in Bastrop. As we know these fires have been horrific. Over 1,000 homes have been burnt to the ground this past week. The first picture above was taken just miles from their home and the other structures in the other 2 pictures are the surrounding homes burnt to the ground.
Now my friend's sister is deep woman of faith. In fact, her main vocation is painting angels. The studio and house are on a lake and what can not be explained to natural causes are the following:
The fire stopped right in front of both the house and the building on their property:
Notice here the fire came up to the holy statues, but did not come any closer to the house:
And the most amazing sight (to me at least) is that the fire completely disintegrated the pier THAT GOES INTO THE WATER - but the house a few yards away is untouched:
I don't know which scripture I like better: Psalms 3:3 that says God is a shield about us or this one from Psalms 91:
That's right—he rescues you from hidden traps,
shields you from deadly hazards.
His huge outstretched arms protect you—
under them you're perfectly safe;
his arms fend off all harm.
Fear nothing—not wild wolves in the night,
not flying arrows in the day,
Not disease that prowls through the darkness,
not disaster that erupts at high noon.
Even though others succumb all around,
drop like flies right and left,
no harm will even graze you.
You'll stand untouched, watch it all from a distance,
watch the wicked turn into corpses.
Yes, because God's your refuge,
the High God your very own home,
Evil can't get close to you,
harm can't get through the door.
He ordered his angels
to guard you wherever you go.
On how to help those who are victims of this fire, please visit The Jersey-Texan's website here.
After having a chance to visit the Bastrop area this weekend, my heart is even more burdened for those who lost their homes and lives, and lifted by the goodness of God to not just these folks but many others.
In touring the area it was stunning to see a home completely intact on a street where every other home was devastated. In this photo - you see a small pickup seemingly transplanted from a setting in Afghanistan next to children's toys untouched (far right in picture).
In most places you just see a bunch of matchsticks, moon surfaces and metal that melted into an unrecognizable heap. Hundreds of families could not find out the status of their property and there was at least one time when the firefighters reported a home lost that was, in fact, untouched.
Many families decided to stay (yesterday there were reports of 14 missing) and friends were stopped by police from even bringing them food and water. There was quite the discussion about the right of the State to dictate whether a private citizen had the right to stay on their land or not. One person noted that in Galveston, a homeowner need only sign a waiver absolving the local law enforcement of any liability OR obligation to help if they refuse to leave a hurricane evacuation.
Meanwhile, firefighters have enough problems trying to determine which areas are truly 'safe' without worrying about having to leave a systematic management of a burn area to assist someone who is - or could be in trouble.
All the firefighters we met were 'salt of the earth' professionals who rarely would receive water or a bite to eat - let alone any praise for "just doing their job." WE SHOULD BE PRAYING FOR THESE FOLKS DAILY! We met one of the 11 national groups from the Bureau of Land Management made up of Rangers from Alaska, California and Montana. They mentioned that the pine trees in Balstrop carried more sap than those in California and thus were burning hotter and longer in most cases. Another team swept the burnt out structures and identified remains (if any) while testing for toxic gases.
The amount of land these guys have to sweep is enormous and what looks calm one moment - can be a problem the next day.
Friday night we witnessed a 'flare up' of a fallen tree that was burning only 25 feet from a nearby woodshed. The log was doused with water pretty easily, but I was stunned that the pooling water around it was bubbling like a pot of gumbo. Even a few feet from the log - the ground itself was a bed of charcoal either from fallen charred wood or the roots that would catch fire.
At 4 am Saturday in an area that was supposed to be completely safe, we witnessed the top of a tree branch glowing like one of those bad electric yard Christmas candles. There was no sign of smoke or flame at base or nearby. And yet the tree was on fire from the inside.
Driving out of Balstrop you could still see smoke from these flare-ups in different areas and utility poles fallen not just of wood - but metal ones that just melted.
Since we arrived at dusk on Friday, we really did not have much feel for the lay of the land OR have any sense of what was normal and what wasn't. We identified hot spots throughout the night and the next day but didn't have a 'feel' for the amount of brush and greenery that was gone from before.
I was able to witness first hand the extent of the 'miracle' first hand. Although the house had the three most important features for surviving a fire (close water source, metal roof, stone walls), there were other elements that still defy logic. In one portico the supports are made of cedar. A very exposed, unfinished, dry wood. Notice in the video below the extent and heat of the fire was enough to melt this electrical box but didn't even singe the concrete or wood next to it.
And this video shows the art studio area where Marti Burns creates her art work of angels and holy things. I show that although fire came up, and even underneath the studio, there are only two structural items of damage. This tiny part of the deck that got singed - and one wooden support under the studio. Can anyone explain to me how a wood support catches fire and disintegrates - but the studio itself is untouched?
We had not visited the area previously so didn't know how it was "supposed" to look or feel. But the difference between Saturday morning and Sunday morning was astounding. I didn't realize it, but there was no sign or sound of life AT ALL through most of the day Saturday. We did find one stray cat and some squirrels with their little tails burnt off, but it almost felt like what you would expect on the moon. Complete quiet and blackened soil. Sunday morning however, I was shocked to see the resurgence of life. Dragonflies bounced off the pond. At least a dozen types of birds - blue jays, titmouse and even wood peckers filled the empty woods with sound and color. An obvious sign that some danger had been avoided.
But even with that - this morning a tree burst into flames on the other side of the pond bringing the firemen running. Like many of the fires we saw on a number of properties - these root systems are so dry they can be burning and spreading under the ground without any evidence.
Please continue to pray for all of these people in Bastrop and all the other fires around the country including Dallas and Oklahoma. And pray for rain.