Texas AG Sues Tree Company Over Deadly, Damaging 2011 Wildfire

February 5, 2018

Texas is suing a vegetation management company that it alleges caused the 2011 Bastrop County Complex Fire, the most destructive wildfire in Texas history.

The lawsuit filed on Jan. 19 by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton alleges the Asplundh Tree Expert Co., which was contracted by the Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative (BEC), failed to clear easements around power lines and remove dead trees. That neglect led to the disastrous fire, according to Paxton.

The AG’s announcement alleged that despite having “a Storm Center that tracks weather patterns and oversees the deployment of Asplundh employees for emergency storm restoration,” the company failed to send crews that had been requested.

Fire officials have said the fire that burned for a month across 32,400 acres, killing two people and destroying almost 1,700 homes and structures, likely started when trees tumbled onto the power lines during a storm and sparks lit grass below.

The lawsuit seeks more than $1 million for replanting and habitat mitigation after extensive damage to Bastrop State Park. The AG’s office said that 96.5 percent of the park’s total acreage was burned in the fire.

A message for Asplundh officials by the Associated Press was not immediately returned.

Texas suffered numerous wildfires in 2011, with a collection of fires — including the Bastrop County Complex Fire — causing at least $100 million in insured damages over the Labor Day weekend that year.