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DEL VALLE, Texas — Editor’s note: The above video is from a September 2019 story marking the eighth anniversary of the Bastrop County fire.
The deadly wildfires in Australia are bringing a lot of attention to fire dangers – even here at home.
Right now, Central Texas is in a drought and the big question is: Are we prepared for a big wildfire? This area has seen big fires before, like the one in Bastrop County in 2011, which burned up almost all of Bastrop State Park and killed two people.
More recently, there have been smaller ones, like the Manchaca fire in South Austin just this fall. Thankfully, in that case, no one was hurt.
We spoke to a lieutenant with Travis County Fire and Rescue in Del Valle. He said they stay prepared, especially during dry months like this.
“We do a lot of training,” Lt. Gary Gibson said. “The trucks get checked out every day. Every apparatus that we have is full of fuel … It has all the appropriate equipment on it. We make sure all the guys here are appropriately trained.”
Gibson said the biggest dangers they see are trash fires and people burning on windy days or too close to their homes.
Right now, a burn ban is still in effect in Travis County despite the wet weather the Austin area saw over the weekend. With the deadly wildfires in Australia, Gibson said the possibility of wildfires and wildfire prevention are at the top of their minds.
“Just a very short period of time, a few minutes unattended, and a fire – if the wind picks up and changes direction – it could be pretty disastrous. So you’ve got to pay attention to it. You gotta make sure it’s attended and that you have a water source and that somebody’s out there watching it,” Gibson said.
The burn ban is expected to stay in effect until Feb. 5.
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