AUSTIN, Texas -- The triple-digit heat is coming back. As the temperature picks up, so does the fire risk across Central Texas. A new website launched Thursday morning called prepared.ly to help combat the rising risk.
The site walks users through the risk at their home. It also breaks down step-by-step instructions in lowering that risk. Users enter their home address. A map pops up. It indicates the immediate fire risk, whether the area is under a burn ban and current weather conditions.
The risk across Central Texas is considered high to very high, according to the latest map released by the Texas Forest Service. Since the Austin-area is still under drought conditions, despite recent rain, the City of Austin and the Austin Fire Department teamed up with Code for America to develop the website. The goal is to get as many homes in risk areas to prepare for a potential fire. That includes homes along the Wildland-Urban Interface such as along Loop 360. Homes there are nestled into the greenery. It's a nice environment, but it's dangerous when a spark catches in the brush.
“We've pulled most of the Cedars back about 20-feet and cut all undergrowth,” said Steve Nelson, who lives along Loop 360.
“We're building out into the interface and we're finding out that this is becoming our major number one issue as a fire department,” said Austin Fire Department Lt. Randy Denzer.
Central Texas is still reeling from the devastating wildfires of 2011. More than 1,300 homes burned in Bastrop and Travis Counties. The website application is designed to send alerts and warnings to a user’s mobile devise if the fire risk increases.