AFD burns brush to train, maintain land



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Posted on July 9, 2013 at 6:28 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jul 9 at 6:41 PM

AUSTIN -- Smoke was seen in East Austin Tuesday afternoon as the Austin Fire Department conducted a prescribed burn.

Crews burned away brush from about 120 acres on a 200-acre peninsula in Walter E. Long Lake that backs up to the Decker Power Plant. You could see smoke from miles away.

"By going through and using fire, we can clear out a lot of this area and  reduce the chance for an uncontrolled fire," Battalion Chief of the Austin Fire Department Palmer Buck said.

Buck says a prescription, or controlled burn, is a way to manage land that hasn't been maintained. The department plans to do more burns like this one, and be more aggressive in land management.

In the last six months, the Austin Fire Department has formed a Wildfire Mitigation Division, and has even hired some people.

"We are partnering with the Austin Water Utility who is responsible for a lot of the lands around the city of Austin," Buck said. "Cedar trees are very flammable and will dramatically light off if a fire comes."

Buck says burning off such high risk vegetation will restore native grasses and trees.

AFD has done extensive planning on this burn during a time when counties have burn bans in place. They have resources on site, including 20 Austin firefighters and members of the Texas Forest Service.

They're also using the prescribed burn as training for when they have to fight uncontrolled fires.

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