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Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Texas targets vegetation management company's role in massive 2011 fire that killed 2

By Mark Iandolo | Jan 30, 2018

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AUSTIN, Texas (Legal Newsline) — Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced Jan. 19 that his office is suing Asplundh Tree Expert Company for alleged neglect that caused a fire at the Bastrop Complex in 2011.

Asplundh is a vegetation management company, and had managed the vegetation at the Bastrop Complex under a contract with Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative (BEC). According to Paxton’s office, Asplundh failed to properly keep trees and debris away from the easements around local power lines. This alleged neglect led to the fire, which burned across 32,400 acres in Bastrop County, killing two people and destroying 1,696 residential and commercial structures.

Paxton’s office also alleged Asplundh failed to properly utilize its storm center during a time of great need. The company had this center to track weather patterns and to manage deployment of employees for emergency storm restoration. According to Paxton’s office, Asplundh did not use the storm xenter and did not send crews to the area where debris was.

“Six years after the tragic fire, the Bastrop State Park is still living with the consequences of blatant neglect, and wildlife has decreased dramatically,” Paxton said in a statement. “My office will not stand by and allow the party who could have prevented this destruction to shirk responsibility.”

Paxton seeks more than $1 million in damages.

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Texas Office of the Attorney General