Crews taking no chances ahead of wildfire season



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Posted on February 13, 2014 at 6:55 PM

Updated Thursday, Feb 13 at 7:18 PM

It's hard to believe it's been a little more than two years since wildfires hit Pedernales Bend in September 2011.

Today, it's hard to tell what happened until you spot a charred stump.

"This entire area was completely just gray, barren ash," said Lt. Kyle Swarts with the Pedernales Fire Department.

Swarts warns people not to be fooled by all this new growth, because Central Texas is still vulnerable to wildfires.

"It would really take significant rainfall over an extended period of time to get us out of this drought," Swarts said.

While a report from the Texas A&M Forest Service said it's possible this wildfire season may be less active, Swarts points out the forecast is taking more of a statewide look.

"The problem is, is that forecast directly conflicts with forecasts being projected by the LCRA in terms of rainfall and how it affects the Colorado River Basin. So, we're hoping that the Forest Service projection is correct," Swarts said.

In Steiner Ranch, a crew from Lake Travis Fire Rescue was busy clearing brush just behind homes. 

When firefighters talk about fire fuels, they're talking about branches, grass and anything that will help the fire spread. So, the reason they were in Steiner Ranch Thursday was to remove these fire fuels and help slow the spread of potential fires.

"It will come up through the canyon, and once it gets to a mitigated area, the idea would be that it slows down, that it's not as intense. Your flame lengths are reduced, 'cause you have less fuel," said Lt. Adam Griggs of Lake Travis Fire Rescue.

Nothing would make firefighters like Griggs happier than a good, soaking rain. But in case that doesn't happen any time soon, clearing this fuel will be an important step in preparing for wildfire season.

Local fire departments like the Pedernales Fire Department and Lake Travis Fire Rescue encourage residents, wherever they may live, to take a look at their homes and see how they can better protect them from fires. The Firewise program is designed to help residents for this reason.

For more information, click here.

Go here for KVUE's fire map to check conditions in your area.

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