Pictures of a dead son lost
Heartbreaking stories from the Texas wildfires: Terrified pets left behind in a10-minute evacuation scramble
Priscilla and Clark Knopik, who live in the Circle D subdivision in Bastrop, fled the dream home they custom built just over a year ago to escape "the monster" wildfires cutting a path of destruction through Central Texas. Amidst the sirens and chaos Sunday night, the Knopiks were able to evacuate with their two children, but they could not catch their two cats, who were terrified and ran away hiding into house.
Within two hours, the family was facing the loss of their house and possibly their beloved pets.
In the raging Central Texas, thousands of families received a 10-minute evacuation notice and needed to choose what they would take and what would be left. Sadly, much is left behind and lost.
In the raging Central Texas wildfires, thousands of families received a 10-minute evacuation notice and needed to choose what they would take and what would be left.
"It all happened in a matter of minutes across the highway from our house," Priscilla said.
Her daughter Elexa ran to the neighbor's house and woke them up from a nap, to tell them to evacuate. "She is my hero," Priscilla said. "We were not able to get our cats out on time. Our lives are saved and that's all that matters. We can replace material, but not our lives."
Janet Pollok and her sons evacuated their home Sunday night. They live in the Tahitian Village neighborhood across Highway 95. In the few minutes Pollok had to leave, she ran through the house trying to collect photographs and memorabilia of Luke, her 10-year-old son who passed away two years ago from a rare pediatric cancer.
"I dug through everything trying to make sure I have all of what is left of Luke," Pollok said. She spent the rest of the night listening to the police scanner and news reports — and watching the orange glow burn up the sky under billowing clouds of black smoke.
"All I could think about was if I do lose the house and everything in it, it's nothing compared to losing my son," Pollok said. "I can handle this, things can be replaced, but lives can't. I have my boys and my dog and Luke is watching over us . . . that's all I need."
In the few minutes Pollok had to leave, she ran through the house trying to collect photographs and memorabilia of Luke, her 10-year-old son who passed away two years ago from a rare pediatric cancer.
The main fire started in the Lost Pines area, and moved unchecked for at least 16 miles south. Because there are a number of separate fires in the Bastrop area, the Texas Forest Service (TFS) is referring to them as the "Bastrop County Complex" fires. The Bastrop fire is still considered to have "no containment," according to TFS.
More than 500 homes have been destroyed along with 30,000 acres — including approximately one-third of Bastrop State Park and its old-growth pine trees. Approximately 5,000 people have been evacuated from the area, and the fires continue to spread. According to KXAN, Austin's NBC affiliate, nearly every public safety agency in the region is stretched to the breaking point, and FEMA has promised to help.
"I ran into total strangers today that had just found out they lost their houses," Pollok said on Monday. "They were just bawling. It's absolutely heartwrenching." She says the worst part is not knowing what has happened to her home.
Right now, the Knopiks are just trying to stay strong. Monday night they received information that their house was still standing to some extent, but they still have no knowledge of the damage or whether their cats are all right.
"Our family and friends are helping us get through this," Priscilla Knopik said, urging people to keep all those who evacuated in their prayers.
How would you react if you had only 10 minutes to evacuate your home? What would you save in those few precious moments?