The line to go home stretched for more than a mile along Hwy 21 in Bastrop County. Finally, anxious homeowners could return to Circle D, Pine Valley, KC Estates and the Pine Hill Estates. It followed more than a week of waiting.
For Erica Mares the homecoming was bittersweet. "We thought that man maybe something would be left but not as far as we can tell, nothing."
This visit with her two sons ended the hope that their home might have somehow been spared. They had been living here for just four days before the wildfire broke out.
Mares says, "We're safe me and my kids and my boyfriend we're safe so now we just got to decide what we're going to do and start up and start a new life from here." For now, the Mareses will stay with family until they can find a permanent home.
Officials said Monday they continue to be concerned about hot spots, downed power lines, and dangling limbs. Throughout the day, their clean up continues. At the same time, students in Smithville and Bastrop ISDs returned to school after having this past week off.
The fire destroyed more than 1500 homes in Bastrop County and its now more than 70 percent contained. Hundreds of residents though are still waiting to return and for some their wait could last until Thursday.
For those whose homes are still standing officials said some residents will likely wait weeks for electricity. Crews are still working on restoring drinking water and for now, people are being asked to boil. In all the fire left more than 34-thousand acres in ashes, the extent of it is only now coming into view.
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