BASTROP COUNTY (KXAN) - State Rep. Tim Kleinschmidt's office invited KXAN News along for a tour of devastated Bastrop County neighborhoods Wednesday.
It was the first time reporters got an up-close look at the damage and a better understanding of why the road to recovery will be a long process.
The lawmaker whose district covers Bastrop Counrty hopes by seeing these images everyone will understand the tremendous hardship and need so many now have in the community.
It's hard to imagine how so many people could lose so much so fast.
"I've seen fires from the air before but this one is so much larger that grabs you right off," said Kleinschmidt.
Both in the Colovista and Tahitian Village neighborhoods are fire-gutted homes, charred cars, trucks and RVs and scorched yards.
But it also spared some property.
"You can have one car out in the driveway that's just totally burned and one 10 feet away that doesn't look like it's touched. You can have four houses in a row and three will burn and one of them will not be burned," said Kleinschmidt.
What did catch on fire, though, is destroyed.
"The lives of those people the people that live in Bastrop County are going to be affected for a long time," he said.
Some homes had no roof or walls. The only thing that stood out in many homes were fireplaces where living rooms once were and burned appliances where kitchens once stood. Most of the damaged homes are full of ash and rubble.
"Utter devastation. It's heart breaking to me as fire chief that on my watch lost this many homes. Can't explain it," said Bastrop Fire Chief Henry Perry.
Perry said despite all the destruction, the firefighters fought hard.
"My guys that are in here worked their tails off to save these homes, saved some of them. Then the next day they're gone because it kicked back up and made another run," he said.
In Bastrop State Park, two-thirds of the trees are gone. Burned-out trunks are toppling over.
Perry said firefighters have wanted to fight the flames even when it was too dangerous to.
"You betcha we had close calls. One of my battalion chiefs told me he said his prayers, thought he was gone, then drove out of it," he said.
Kleinschmidt said the hope now is for no more loss of life and for continued help for those who've lost everything but their lives.
"Part of these homes will be insured. There's probably a large number of these homes that were not insured and will be very difficult to replace for these families, so it's a huge loss. We can only hope both the state and federal level will come and help these people as much as possible," he said.
Kleinschmidt said even those who did not lose their homes will likely not be able to live in them for several weeks. That's because restoring power to the burned out neighborhoods will take time.
Click here for more pictures from the neighborhood.
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