Brush Fires

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

The Austin Fire Department says there were 57 grass and brush fires in Travis County over the Fourth of July, 30 of those fires were within the Austin city limits.

The fire department believes many of the fires were caused by fireworks.

"Certainly these smaller grass fires can extend to homes and businesses. And you know there is always the chance of people getting injured using the fireworks," AFD Battalion Chief Thayer Smith said.

Burn Ban Back in Place

Aug 7, 2012
Flickr user Dawn Huczek, http://bit.ly/Nzgxld

A burn ban is back in effect in Travis County. Fire Marshal Hershel Lee recommended the ban be put back in place during a county commissioners’ meeting this morning.

Central Texas had been without a burn ban since mid-July.

But Lee says the last few weeks have been pretty dry and the forecast looks like it will bring more heat and little rain.

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

The Austin and Travis County fire departments have responded to dozens of grass and trash fires in the last 24 hours. Crews responded to 29 small grass fires and 11 trash fires.

But, they say, for a hot, dry Fourth of July, there were actually fewer fires than they expected.

Most of the fires are still under investigation but Battalion Chief Thayer Smith says fireworks were likely involved in many.

“When you have 29 grass fires on the 4th of July and on the 3rd of July you only had two, certainly you would expect that the majority of those grass fires are obviously going to be related to fireworks in some form or fashion," said Smith.

Callie Hernandez for KUT News

The Austin Fire Department is reminding everyone to be extra careful to prevent grass fires.

Fire crews responded to 12 calls about small grass fires yesterday afternoon, mostly along major roads. The fire department says the flare-ups were probably caused by cigarette butts.

Travis County Commissioners put a burn ban back in effect on Tuesday. Cigarettes are not included in the burn ban, but the Austin Police Department will issue tickets for littering to anyone they see improperly dispose of their butts.

KUT News

Weekend Road Closures, Delays

A couple of popular events this weekend could create traffic delays downtown. Batfest and Night of the Bats is tomorrow from 1:00 p.m. to midnight on the Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue Bridge. Congress will be closed between Cesar Chavez and Barton Springs starting at 5:00 a.m. Saturday through 4:00 a.m. Sunday. 

Photo by KUT News

Fire Destroys 15 Homes in Leander

Firefighters are watching for flare ups this morning, after a fast moving brush fire consumed 30 acres Monday. Just after 4:00 p.m. a grass fire sparked in a neighborhood near Leander Middle School forcing 189 homes to evacuate. Fifteen homes were destroyed in the fire. Most families have been allowed to return to their homes, but Lexi Maxwell of the Texas Forest Service told KUT News there is high chance of another flare up.

The City of Austin is reminding people that an outdoor smoking and fire ban remains in effect. This after a blaze along southbound Mopac near the Barton Skyway exit yesterday. The threat of wildfires remains dangerously high in the drought-parched region.

Firefighters were called out just before 2:30 p.m. today to battle a brush fire on South Mopac (Loop 1) near the Capital of Texas Highway (Loop 360) exit.  The fire was controlled about 2:45 p.m. But Austin Police have temporarily closed the southbound onramp to Mopac from Barton Skyway because of the smoke put off by the fire. The onramp is expected to reopen after 3:30 p.m.