Trees scorched in Bastrop fires get second life

BASTROP, Texas (KXAN) — The wildfires that raged through Bastrop County three years ago left behind thousands of charred, dead trees.

Many of the trees burned in the fire are still standing, but crews are working to remove them so they can be turned into fuel.

Crews on Thursday cut down one tree after another at the Tahitian Village neighborhood, one of the many areas ravaged by the Labor Day fires three years ago.

GOING IN-DEPTH // Cleanup Costs

  • The cost to remove fire debris in Bastrop County was estimated at around $25 million.
  • The Federal Emergency Management Agency is covering about $19 million of those costs.
  • But there is a lot of ground to cover. The fire burned more than 34,000 acres, roughly twice the size of the city of Round Rock.

“Today is all about getting our community back together,” said Mike Fisher with Bastrop County Emergency Management, “both physically and emotionally, and get our attitudes back.”

But three years later, there is a silver lining. The 27,000 acres of trees will be shredded and become useful again.

‘It’s turned into a wood-fuel pellet and then it’s exported to Liverpool, England, to a German utilities company called Drax,” said Dennis Parker with Go Green International Inc. “They use the wood pellets to make power, instead of coal, so it’s just converted into clean energy.”

But cleaning up the 4,500 private properties and thousands of acres of pine trees will take at least four years. Now county officials want property owners to sign up for this free tree removal program.

“So far we only about a fourth of those property owners have registered their property with our clean up effort,” said Bastrop Judge Paul Pape. “So we need to get the word out to them.”

Go Green International is working with the County to get permission from private landowners to harvest burned trees.

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