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River bottom fire estimated at $115K loss

River bottom fire estimated at $115K loss
Nacogdoches Daily Sentinel

POSTED: Tuesday, September 20, 2011 - 8:34am

UPDATED: Tuesday, September 20, 2011 - 9:12am

As the Angelina River Bottom Fire raged on, the thoughts of firefighters were on making sure homes stayed safe and lives were protected.

It wasn't until the fire was out and the smoke started to clear that the true costs of the wildfire started to become apparent.

The fire torched more than 6,500 acres of land on the west side of Nacogdoches County, burning land from FM 343 at the Angelina River, to State Hwy. 21 just west of Douglass.

After tallying expenses from the local volunteer fire departments and the county itself, the direct cost of the fire was figured at a little over $115,000, Nacogdoches County Judge Joe English said.

The figure, he said, was compiled from figures from all the fire departments, which turned in receipts for possible reimbursement.

"The county will be reimbursing all the volunteer fire departments for their expenses, their gas and equipment, regardless of if they are in an emergency services district or not," English said.

About 20 percent of the $115,000 is calculated from donated equipment and isn't a reimbursement, per se, but still is factored in the fire's cost.

"This is why you never spend all the contingency (in the county budget,)" English said. "You never know when you're going to have a disaster, and you're going to have to pay out of your hip pocket for it."

The county also had to pay overtime holiday pay for employees on the Labor Day holiday who battled the blaze, he said.

The Lilbert/Looneyville VFD had nearly 800 hours of manpower invested in the fire, and Chief Bobby Brashears said some people took off work all week to fight it.

Read the full story here.

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