Wildfires that broke out Labor Day weekend in Texas blackened more than 34,000 acres and forced thousands of residents to evacuate. Hundreds of homes were destroyed, and the fires were blamed for two deaths. The Texas Forest Service said that the wildfires have been 95 percent contained.
The Associated Press has reported that a copy of the report obtained by the Austin American-Statesman stated that the massive blaze started as two fires ignited about five miles apart around the same time. One fire began when winds toppled a dead pine tree onto power lines, showering the dry vegetation below with sparks. The other fire ignited when fallen tree branches became tangled with power lines, showering dry grass and branches with sparks, according to the AP.
Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative expects to restore power today to most of the Tahitian Village neighborhood, an area north of Texas Highway 71 near Alum Creek Road, an area around Cottletown Road and Long Trail and an area north of Texas Highway 21 East between FM 1441 and Cardinal Drive in Bastrop, Texas. As of Wednesday morning, Bluebonnet has restored power to areas that had 3,449 meters before the fire. Co-op officials estimate there are about 275 undamaged homes or businesses in the areas where it is still working to restore power.
Bluebonnet has taken 208 requests from members to reconnect power and completed 142 appointments. After an appointment has been completed, Bluebonnet’s construction crews make the necessary repairs to restore electricity from the power line to a member’s home or business. So far, Bluebonnet’s construction crews have completed 89 reconnects. Requests continue to come in daily.
More than 400 Bluebonnet employees and contractors remain in the field working to clear trees from rights-of-way, chip and haul off the trees and rebuild power lines. There are 124 right-of-way crews, 97 chipping-and-hauling crews and 23 power-restoration crews. Bluebonnet estimates power will be restored to the last area in the burn zone Sept. 25, almost two weeks earlier than originally estimated.