Wednesday marks the anniversary of the worst wildfire Texas has ever seen

Fire caused more than $325 million in damages

On this day in 2011, three separate fires merged to create the worst wildfire in Texas History in Bastrop County.

We see wildfires every year in Texas.  Some years are worse than others.

But for those who know Texas, it is the dry summer of 2011 that will forever live in our memories.

Numerous wildfires scorched the state. The largest of them all was the Bastrop Complex Fire. 

It was unlike anything Texas had ever seen before and it remains the most devastating wildfire in Texas history. 

In all, 1,690 residential structures were destroyed, with causing up to $325 million in damage. More than 32,000 acres burned and two deaths resulted from the fire. 

The fire was a culmination of a perfect storm. 

From the end of February through the end of August in 2011, little rain fell across Central and South Texas.

For instance, San Antonio picked up a little more than 3 inches during the six-month period. The drought was the worst Texas had seen since the 1950s. Not only was it dry, it was also hot.  

Temperatures reached the century mark 57 times in San Antonio.

In addition, a tropical storm missed the area to the east, bringing heavy rain to Louisiana in early September. Instead of rainfall for Texas, it increased wind speeds across the eastern half of the state. In these extreme conditions, 63 wildfires began to scorch Texas' dry earth. 

On Sept. 4, three fires began near Bastrop State Park.  

Upon further investigation, it was believed that downed power lines fell on trees and debris, sparking the flames.

The fires rapidly spread due to the strong winds and would later merge.  

Homes began to burn and much of the area was evacuated. By Sept. 8, nearly 1,400 homes had been destroyed.  

Complete containment of the fire would not occur until Oct. 10. Air quality in nearby Austin was impacted as smoke spread across the state. 

Many of the beloved pine trees in the Lost Pines belt were destroyed, significantly affecting the habitat. While the area is not fully recovered, it has made big strides. Thankfully, drought conditions like we witnessed in 2011 have not been repeated. 

About the Author:

Justin Horne is a meteorologist and reporter for KSAT 12 News. When severe weather rolls through, Justin will hop in the KSAT 12 Storm Chaser to safely bring you the latest weather conditions from across South Texas. On top of delivering an accurate forecast, Justin often reports on one of his favorite topics: Texas history.