KUT News Oral History “Forged in Flames” Commemorates 2011 Labor Day Wildfires
Community Listening Session and Forum Takes Place Sept. 10
AUSTIN, Texas — August 29, 2012 — KUT News will commemorate one of the biggest stories of our time with an oral history documentary and interactive website. “Forged in Flames: An Oral History of the Labor Day Wildfires” features first-person accounts of the 2011 Labor Day fires that swept through Central Texas.
A year in the making, the one-hour broadcast will air Tuesday, Sept. 4 at 3 p.m., and Wednesday, Sept. 5 at 7 p.m. The website will launch on Sept. 4.
The Labor Day wildfires took two lives and uprooted thousands of others. More than 1,600 homes were destroyed, landmarks disappeared and habitats changed. For each statistic there is a story. “Forged in Flames” tells the stories of the Bastrop, Steiner Ranch and Spicewood wildfires in the words of those who fought and those who survived the flames.
KUT News reporters, producers and interns have spent the past year building long-term relationships with residents while conducting in-depth interviews to capture their stories. Excerpts of those first-person stories — ranging from when the fires were still burning, to after the fires were extinguished and since, as residents rebuild their lives — will be featured in the one-hour oral history broadcast.
The “Forged in Flames” website features an interactive timeline with audio clips, interview transcripts, first-person essays, photos, maps, videos and links to news stories about the fires. The online archive will serve as a living history of the 2011 Labor Day Wildfires and will become richer as KUT News continues to collect interviews and cover news events in this ongoing story.
“The wildfire story doesn’t end with the September broadcast,” said KUT News Director Emily Donahue. “Some people continue to live in trailers while others have broken ground on or moved into new homes. Still others are moving out of the area and out of state.”
“The Bastrop complex fire alone was the worst wildfire in Texas history. Insured losses amounted to more than $360 million,” continued Donahue. “The sheer impact of the disasters demands we continue to cover this story as families recover, build new lives and forge new communities.”
The full interviews and related records of the “Forged in Flames” project will become part of the permanent collection at The University of Texas at Austin’s Dolph Briscoe Center for American History. As part of the Briscoe Center’s archival holdings, the project materials will be preserved and made accessible to researchers for a wide range of academic, professional and personal uses.
On Monday, Sept. 10, KUT will host a “Forged in Flames” community forum at 6 p.m. in Studio 1A at the KUT Public Media Studios at the northeast corner of Guadalupe and Dean Keeton.
Featured speakers will include Donahue; Mose Buchele, of StateImpact Texas; and Erin Purdy, of the Briscoe Center for American History. This forum is free and open to the public.