Austin Fire: Be prepared for summer wildfire season

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AUSTIN, Texas — Central Texas is facing the summer wildfire season.

The Austin Fire Department said a rainy spring and early summer created a lot of vegetation.

Battalion Chief Josh Portie said the brush overgrowth from the rain has increased fire risk.

“We’re already starting to see an increase and the occurrence of grass fires and brush fires,” said Portie.

We are at a moderate fire risk now.

“With that, we’ve already started staffing rehab units for the city,” said Portie. “We’ve been paying overtime firefighters during the day, the hottest times of the day. So when we do have those fires, they can come out and help our firefighters cool off as we’re responding to big grass fires.”

The majority of Austin is within the Wildland Urban Interface, where homes and brush meet.

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Certified arborist Justice Jones, who leads Austin Fire Department’s wildfire division, said we can keep the lush landscape.

“Shade is our friend,” said Jones. “Having trees in our landscape and environment is actually a good thing from a fire standpoint, because grass burns much more easily than live, large trees.”

AFD said to prune dead limbs and low-lying branches – prune them away from the chimney and clean up brush below trees.

“Clean out rain gutters,” said Portie. “Leaf litter builds up in there and small fires start in there and then it can catch the whole house on fire.”

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The Austin Fire Department is celebrating the 75th Birthday for Smokey Bear at the Austin Nature and Science Center on August 9 from 9-11 a.m.

AFD said there will be wildfire education, coloring books, stickers and birthday fun.


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