AFD, neighbors preparing for wildfire season
For neighbors in the Meadow Mountain community in Northwest Austin, the scenery of the woods and canyon provide great views from the backyards of the homes there. But the trade-off for that is perfect wildfire conditions.
This is especially the case in the summer months, when there's high fire risk days. "Very very vulnerable to wildfire," said Vicki Landon. "We have all the conditions for a devastating and dangerous wildfire."
Landon lives in this neighborhood. She says a fire from the other side of the canyon years ago served as a wake up call. "That was a very frightening day," Landon said.
Landon and other neighbors gathered soon after, turning their neighborhood into a "firewise" community. This means they have prepared their homes to prevent wildfires from reaching them, and making easy routes to get out of the area. "We can never fully do away with the risk of wildfire. It's where we live. However we can mitigate it, to the point where i know my neighbors won't be caught unaware, and go up in cinders very quickly," Landon said.
The Austin Fire Department is beefing up staffing for this time of year, especially after the 100-acre brush fire in northwest Travis County last week. "You can see behind me in the station, the brush trucks are not there. It's out with the engine, and is ready to respond immediately. We're already having to take those precautions," said AFD Fire Battalion Chief Josh Portie.
Both neighbors and fire officials say preparation began long ago, which is crucial to make sure homes and lives are not in danger when wildfire season is in full swing. "Be empowered, and do everything you can to prepare your home and defend it from a wildfire, before that wildfire occurs," Portie said.
Landon says the community coming together has been crucial in keeping everyone safe. "We're only as strong as our weakest link. If one home goes up, the rest are likely to," Landon said.
The Austin Fire Department Wildfire Division is holding a Wildfire Preparedness Symposium on May 4. They will offer to send firefighters to homes to see how prepared you are.