On Sunday, September 4, the piney woods of Bastrop, Texas went up in flames. After one week, the fire is 70% contained. At last count, 1,554 homes have been destroyed, in addition to many businesses including Roscar Chocolates and Texas Kiln Products. Among the 34,000 acres burned was nearly all of Bastrop State Park. It’s miraculous that only two people perished (confirmed so far) and losses are estimated at a Texas fire record of $150M.
The following picture was taken by my wife on Monday September 5. The smoke appears much closer than two miles away, giving an indication of the size of the blaze.
On Saturday, September 10, Highway 71 opened between Bastrop and Smithville to the east. Driving this section revealed a post-apocalyptic wasteland, where once a lush pine forest–one of Bastrop’s main tourist draws–carpeted gently rolling terrain.
Tree stumps still smoldered six days after the fire roared through. Friends nearer the fire said it sounded like a freight train that went on for two days.
A number of charities are supporting the relief and recovery effort. Some of them can be found at the Austin Statesman. “Central Texas Wildfire Recovery” has a Facebook page listing more opportunities.
Two benefit concerts are planned, featuring big-name artists. Proceeds will go to help fire victims who lost their homes. More on this soon, as details emerge.