The Bastrop County Complex fire proved to be the most destructive wildfire in Texas history.
On Sept. 4, 2011, high winds pushed trees into power lines. Two sparks quickly became an inferno fed by a drought-stricken forest and later by people’s homes. Two people died, 1,691 homes were destroyed and 32,000 acres of land burned.
The giant fire smoldered for nearly a month and caused more than $300 million in damage. Since then, 700 homes have been rebuilt or are in the process of being rebuilt.
This week, Bastrop is marking the one year anniversary of the massive wildfire that scorched the land and changed thousands of lives. YNN is looking back at the disaster and the recovery -- in our show, Bastrop Recovery: One Year Later in the video above.
Re-birth and re-growth are happening not only in Bastrop, but in counties all across Central Texas. As the Bastrop County Complex fire was building, the Union Chapel fire forced 18 Cedar Creek neighborhoods to evacuate. The flames covered more than 700 acres and set 25 homes ablaze.
Just about the same amount of homes burned in Steiner Ranch, and hundreds were threatened. Travis County Deputy Constable Kevin Aigner, 38, lost his life while helping families return to their homes. He collapsed from a heart attack on Sept. 10, 2011 after spending days in the smoke.
From the football team, to the thousands of students and hundreds of teachers, Bastrop community members learned lifelong lessons from the rebuilding effort. The kick off to this new school year marked the beginning of the new, post-fire chapter.
Even before Bastrop ignited, two fires burned In Pflugerville. The Hody and Pigeon Forge fires forced more than 190 families to pack what they could in their cars and run, leaving their homes behind. A fire also raged in Cedar Park, destroying two homes. A brush fire threatened Leander. Near Lake Travis, the Pedernales fire ignited, claiming 40 homes, almost 6,500 acres and burned for 11 days.
Rebuilding portions of fire-ravaged Bastrop County includes protecting the region’s smallest residents, the Houston Toad.
The effort to rebuild also includes a massive reforestation campaign. It’s a push to replant the majestic lost pines. Now, the seedlings from that effort are sprouting up in nurseries all over Central Texas, including the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. Volunteers there are now tending the seedlings which will one day shade Bastrop.