USA — East Texas wildfires destroyed $97 million worth of timber in the past 10 months, according to the Texas Forest Service.
Firefighters continue to monitor carryover fires in the area through Sunday.
Since November, East Texas firefighters have responded to 2,151 wildfires that charred 207,763 acres and destroyed 175 million cubic feet of timber, according to Texas Forest Service economists and analysts. The value of all those trees as they stood in the forest referred to as stumpage value was $97 million.
Along with the heavy toll on people and property, these fires have significantly damaged the forestland and the forest sector as a whole in East Texas, said Chris Edgar, a forest resource analyst with Texas Forest Service. Its a tremendous loss for the East Texas timber industry.
The Bear Creek fire in Cass and Marion counties, which is still being monitored, has been tabbed as the largest fire in East Texas history, said Holly Huffman with the Texas Forest Service. The fire destroyed 40,979 acres, 66 homes and 17.3 million cubic feet of timber with a stumpage value of $8.8 million, Huffman said.
The timber in Cass and Marion counties could have produced $159 million worth of forest products, spurring $349 million into the East Texas economy, Huffman said. In 2007, forest industries funneled $427 million into the economy in Cass and Marion counties, employing 1,330 people with a payroll of $72 million, she said.
A fire in Nacogdoches and Cherokee counties burned 6,554 acres of land and 2.9 million cubic feet of timber with a stumpage value of $1.5 million, Huffman said. Another fire in Grimes, Waller and Montgomery counties burned 18,960 acres of land and 20.8 million cubic feet of timber with the stumpage value of $12.8 million, she said.
While rain Thursday cooled many of the fire areas, officials said firefighters must closely monitor carryover fires through Sunday. On Thursday, a 12-acre fire east of Jefferson was contained, but crews continue to mop up. Five crews, 26 engines, two water tenders and one dozer a total of 306 personnel remain assigned to the fire, according to the forest service.
Meanwhile, Cass and Marion County residents who have housing-related damages from the wildfires are eligible for assistance through the Federal Emergency Management Agency for what insurance does not cover. The decision follows a state request submitted Friday to make state and federal assistance available to eligible homeowners, renters and business owners in Cass and Marion.