AFD prepares for wildfire danger alert this weekend

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by SHELTON GREEN / KVUE News and photojournalist DATHAN HULL

khou.com

Posted on September 8, 2012 at 5:12 PM

AUSTIN –  An elevated risk of wildfire danger in the Central Texas area has the Austin and fire departments in a number of bordering counties on alert this weekend.

A triple threat of high winds, low humidity and dry vegetation has the AFD beefing up staffing on brush trucks in four quadrants of the city.
 
“The conditions are ripe, especially the fact that we didn't have any rain in August so all that vegetation that we had is dried out especially the light fuels,” said Palmer Buck with the Austin Fire Department
 
Buck also encouraged Central Texans to practice “common sense” this weekend when it comes to outdoor activities such as barbecuing, mowing, welding. He added that Travis County remains under a burn ban.
 
Austin’s potential for wildfire danger has also gotten the attention of the Austin Public Safety Commission.
 
On Thursday, Michael Lauderdale, Chairman of the Public Safety Commission sent Austin City Council members a letter urging them to find the funding as soon as possible to create a Wildfire Prevention Department and a department for wildfire mitigation.
 
“We have looked at Colorado Springs, we have looked at Arizona, we've looked at California and said 'how do we compare to them?'" said Lauderdale. The fire department said in some ways they are at greater threat because they've had greater moisture and greater danger.
 
The creation of a Wildfire Department and Wildfire Mitigation could cost 1 to 2 million dollars a year for several years.
 
The Austin City Council is expected to say yea or nay to the wildfire funding at its next meeting on Thursday.

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