It began on September 4, 2011. There is even a Wikipedia entry for this infamous blaze under Bastrop County Complex Fire. According to Wikipedia, “on September 6, the Texas Forest Service released a statement describing the fires behavior as ‘unprecedented’ and stating that ‘no one on the face of this earth has ever fought fires in these extreme conditions.’”
It was not completely extinguished until October 10, 2011.
A tropical storm had landed on the Texas coast and moved northeast. We didn’t get the rain from it, but we did get the wind, which propelled the flames.
I remember telling a friend that I had never lived in close proximity to fires before; I had lived where we had hurricanes come in South Alabama, but never fires. She had lived in this area all of her life and she said, “Uh, this is new for all of us too. We have never had anything this bad before here either.”
Of course, I don’t live in the affected area. I live in Hays County, about thirty miles away. But close enough, that I could look to the southeast sky and see the smoke from the unprecedented blaze.
One of the most severely affected areas was the Bastrop State Park. All but 95 acres of the 5,926 acre park were affected. I visited the park to take photos of the progress four months after the tragedy.It reminded me of the woods in Alabama after they had been logged. Many of the trees were cut down; that is, the ones that had not already fallen after being burned. Much of the park was closed for repairs. The attendant at the park told me that they had crews cutting down trees, electrical crews, and bulldozers moving the logs and debris. I saw some of this in progress. Many of the park roads are still closed for safety concerns. The attendant told me that they would not allow entry into any road that was not cleared for at least 100 feet on each side of the road. Sawdust now covers the ground where trees,leaves and pine needles once stood. Trees that were fully adorned with leaves and pine needles now stand bare. They look naked without the greenery. Trees that are still standing are now black from being burned and from soot from the smoke. The park has been transformed from the pristine beautiful area that it once was.
But a lot of work has already been done, and continues to occur. I am convinced that this park will be restored to its beautiful setting.
What follows are the pictures that I took from the devastation and rebuilding.
|Logs and trees cut down to prevent them from falling on someone or something.|
|This was a building built in the 1930's. The wood was burnt off of it.|
|Notice all of the stumps left after trees being cut.This was all dense forest.|
|Blackened bark on leafless trees.|
|Remains of a pine tree.|
|This once forest area now cleared.|
|More skeletal remains of forest.|
|So sad to see this so bare now.|
|Back in the day, the travel trailers would have been obscured by the growth.|
|Workers use fire-damaged tree remains to build fence.|
|These Forest Service employees are working hard to recycle trees and restore beauty.|
|This electrical supply, damaged by fire is still cordoned off.|
|Blackened pine tree.|
|More damaged trees.|
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