GLADEWATER, Texas (AP) — Almost a year after her sister's death, Danielle Brown stood on her family's property on Lincoln Springs Road looking out toward the woods.
The land, almost due south of Gladewater, between U.S. 271 and FM 135, is filled with vegetation and life.
It bears no resemblance to a year ago, when it showed only the charred remains of a wildfire that ravaged 1,556 acres, claiming half a dozen homes and two young lives.
"We were told she had gotten out through the back window. We were told she had headed for the woods," Brown said of her sister, Valerie McBride. "When we got here on Sept. 4, my mom got out and walked to the back of the property, and wondered why she would have gone into the woods. We called the police and they came and did their search. That's when we found her. That's when it became ... a tragedy."
McBride, 20, and her 19-month old daughter, K'loe, died in what is referred to as the Moore fire — one of the first East Texas wildfires in this past year's outbreak.
Collectively, those wildfires torched more than 50,000 acres of land in East Texas.
Valerie McBride was your typical 20-year-old woman.
"She enjoyed doing anything and everything," said her mother, Jane McBride. "She almost always had a smile on her face."
Valerie worked at Starbucks and enjoyed her job. She'd given birth to her only child, K'loe, 19 months before.
"Valerie was finding herself," Brown said. "She was figuring herself out."
K'loe had started walking and talking. She was sneaky and got into her fair share of mischief, but she also liked to be seen.
"She'd just stare at you until you made eye contact with her, then she'd just smile at you," Jane McBride said.
To get K'loe to go to sleep, all the family had to do was give her a pink blanket and a sippy cup with warm milk.
"She was a good baby," Brown said.
Valerie loved her child more than words can describe, her mother said.
"You couldn't have asked for a better mother," she said.
Neither Jane McBride nor Brown, who lives in Longview, were at the family property when the fire broke out that Sunday morning one year ago.
"When I got word of it, I was told that she had escaped," Brown said. "I went to a location with evacuees, and she wasn't there."
Brown came to Gladewater and met her mother at the Antique Capital RV Park. Together, they drove out toward the family's property. They asked neighbors if anyone had seen Valerie. Some people said they'd heard she escaped through the back window or back door and run toward the woods behind the home.