Community rallies for fire departments


In August, firefighters from 18 area fire departments heeded the call and rushed to the rescue to save The Trails subdivision in Horseshoe Bay and the neighboring Blue Lake community from a wildfire.

Last week, it was the community’s turn to repay the favor as representatives from these departments received their pro rata share of $100,000 collected during an area-wide fundraiser established in the aftermath of the Trails Fire.

During a ceremony on Wednesday, Sept. 30, at Horseshoe Bay City Hall, Horseshoe Bay Fire Chief Brent Batla and Donna Klaeger, executive director of the Commuinty Resource Centers of Texas Inc. (CRC), handed out checks that will be used by fire departments for upgrading fire extinguishers, safety belts and other equipment on the trucks, self-contained breathing apparatus and flood and rescue gear.

Also present were fundraiser co-chairs Dick Nelson and Jan Burrow of The Trails community in Llano County to give their personal gratitude to the first responders, as well as those who contributed to the fundraiser.

“Thanks to friends and neighbors, and the good people in and around the Highland Lakes, even friends in faraway places,” Nelson said.

“We had a bad fire, and good people showed up,” Burrow added.

After the Aug. 13 fire, which damaged two structures and consumed more than 400 acres in the Trails and Blue Lake subdivisions of Horseshoe Bay, Nelson and Burrow, along with other residents, seized on the idea of “giving back” to the many volunteer fire departments who came to their aid.

A fund was established and the CRC’s website was utilized to make online contributions possible with a goal in mind of raising $100,000. To help “seed the pot,” one generous Trails resident offered a matching challenge grant of $25,000. Many of those who donated were among the same residents who were out serving water and refreshments to firefighters that August day while they battled the blaze.

The goal of $100,000 was reached within a very short time; however, donations can still be made through the CRC website at

In addition to Horseshoe Bay Fire Rescue, other departments which responded included Marble Falls Area, Buchanan, Sandy Harbor, Spicewood, Bertram, Sunrise Beach, Granite Shoals, Oakalla, East Lake Buchanan, Burnet, Hoover Valley, Round Mountain, Cassie, Kingsland, Johnson City, Llano and Cottonwood Shores.

“In most instances, we get a simple ‘Thank you’ — and, in reality, that’s enough,” Batla said. “However, the Trails HOA has gone above and beyond to thank the 18 fire departments that responded to the 400+ acre fire on August 13, 2020.

“Speaking for our department I can tell you that we feel very appreciated by this outpouring of generosity.”

Bertram VFD Fire Chief Bobby Huffstetler said the funds his department receives “will be used for training and equipment to better serve the area and help prevent loss of life and property.”