Energy & Environment
12:14 pm
Wed February 19, 2014

Prescribed Burn Could Have Austin-Area Residents Seeing Smoke

Austin area residents may see some smoke today as the result of a prescribed burn.

Officials warn that smoke may be visible west of Buda and south of FM 1826 from mid-morning until sunset. Citizens are urged to keep the prescribed burn in mind and exercise caution when contacting emergency services about any smoke.

The burn is part of an effort by Austin Water's Wildland Conservation Division to restore native grasses to water quality protection land. The protected land ensures the quantity and quality of the water that reaches the Barton Springs portion of the Edwards Aquifer.

The Austin Fire Department, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and Hays County officials will work together to ensure the controlled fire is carried out effectively.

Burn boss Luke Ball with Austin Water said the fire is completely safe, despite the Hays County burn ban. He says the burn team monitors the moisture in the juniper trees, the soil, and the grass, which is the main carrier of the fire, in order to ensure the fire will be properly controlled.

The burn team also monitors the weather and conducts a test fire before the full burn is initiated.

“We only light what we know we can control,” Ball says.

The burn was scheduled to start at 10:30 a.m., but due to humidity it has been pushed back to 12:30 p.m. Amanda Ross of the Wildland Conservation Division said weather conditions will continue to be monitored, but if humidity persists the burn will not be pushed past 2 p.m. In that event, the utility will have to reschedule to a different day based on the forecast.

The fire area will be patrolled for a full week after the burn is completed. For more information about prescribed burn procedures you can visit the City's wildfire page.