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Bastrop Wildfire Case Study reveals a job well done

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Emergency officials released a comprehensive breakdown of last year's massive Bastrop wildfire Monday.

The 165-page report, called the Bastrop Complex Wildfire Case Study, details the state's most destructive fire and the nation's third largest wildfire near a populated area. In all, the fire burned more than 34,000 acres, destroyed 1,600 homes and killed two people.

Mike Fisher commanded emergency efforts during the fire, and officials have told him he deserves more than praise from the results of the study.

"We needed to gather all this documentation and put it together in a format that would be useful," Fisher said. "Our Bastrop County officials retained ownership of this (the study), and our state and federal partners said 'that's great, that's the way it should be done.'"

Researchers studied contributing fire factors like weather conditions leading up to the fire, vegetation acting as fire fuel, fire behavior, evacuation procedures, home survivability and emergency response.

Analysts discovered three ignition points for the $250 million fire. At 2:22p.m., the first call came into dispatch. A little over an hour later, at 3:40 p.m., a firefighter watched as the second fire ignited and three hours after the Charolais fire, at 5:16 p.m., power lines hit a tree and triggered the Tahitian Village fire.

"I felt like it was imperative that I offer this up to the county so this case study now is of property and of value to Bastrop County,” Fisher said. "The intent of this case study over all is to describe what happened and why it happened."

Findings also show 13 minutes after the first reports of fire, officials began the evacuation of 5,000 people.

Bastrop County Jim Wither Judge is eager to share the information packet.

"Local officials elsewhere, their emergency management teams could learn a lot from it,” he said.

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