“It’s gotten the point where if you just stand outside, you smell like you have been in a fire,” says Derek R. Van Gilder (pictured, right) of Bastop’s The Law Office Of Derek R. Van Gilder. His town is still recovering from a devastating wildfire that reportedly has destroyed more than 500 homes. Gilder calls himself “lucky,” because he has not lost his home or office building to the flames. But he has plenty of friends who have lost property. Some 12 people — from three different families — temporarily have relocated to his home. One of those families knows their home is gone; the other two families are waiting to find out what happened to their houses. Van Gilder says his associate, David Collins (pictured, left), spent this morning with a group of volunteer lawyers from the Bastrop County Bar Association and the Austin Bar Association, who are offering to help evacuees with legal issues such as insurance claims. Across the board, the fire has licked the legal community. Van Gilder says the Bastrop County District Attorney Bryan Goetz and two other lawyers he knows lost their homes to the fire. (No one answered at Goetz’s office.) The Bastrop county courthouse has closed indefinitely — not because of any fire damage, Van Gilder says, but because officials deemed it impossible to get prospective jurors to the courthouse amid the flames’ aftermath. Offers of assistance from around the world buoy Van Gilder’s spirits. A local luxury hotel discounted its prices. “But now it's all filled up,” Van Gilder says.
-- Miriam Rozen