Bastrop County fire recovery hits halfway mark
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More than one year since the devastating Bastrop County Complex fire, recovery managers say they are still making progress.
"It's amazing what can get done when nobody cares who gets the credit," Bastrop County Judge Paul Pape said.
The worst fire in Texas history, the Bastrop County Complex fire scorched more than 35,000 acres and destroyed nearly 1,700 homes.
Immediately following, the recovery seemed daunting, but now 15 months later, progress is being made.
"We've cut about 50,000 hazard trees—that's not counting the electric company,” Mike Fisher, Director of the Bastrop County Office of Emergency Management, said. “We've got about 12,000 more."
Many of the destroy homes have been rebuilt, but not all.
“Sixty-four-thousand tons of concrete and brick we've hauled away so far, so we're well over halfway through there,” Fisher said.
The county is also replanting Loblolly Pine trees on a scale never attempted before. So far, 300,00 seedlings have been planted across 500 acres.
"Before this is over, folks, we hope to put in excess of four million seedlings in the ground in Bastrop County," Jim Nooni with the Texas Forest Service said.
The endangered Houston Toad has survived, but still struggles.
"They didn't suffer direct impacts from the fire as much as they've suffered from the long term drought conditions," Greg Creacy with Texas Parks and Wildlife said.
Emergency managers say about $20 million has been spent on fire clean up.
The reforestation work has largely been paid for by grants and donations from nonprofits and businesses.