Breaking News
More () »

City officials, neighbors prep for wildfires as Austin ranks towards top of national list for risk

Over the past few decades, Central Texas has seen some devastating fires. Now, Austin leaders are stepping up to the plate to spread awareness.

AUSTIN, Texas — Austin is one of the top cities at risk for wildfires. And with fire season just around the corner, City leaders are urging residents to be prepared.

Over the past few decades, Central Texas has seen some devastating fires. Now, City leaders are stepping up to the plate to spread more awareness.

The Steiner Ranch neighborhood in northwest Austin was met with violent fires and destruction just over a decade ago. That's why city officials like Councilmember Alison Alter say wildfire awareness is crucial for all Central Texans.

"We, as a community, are at risk of a wildfire. We're structurally the fifth most at risk area of the country," Alter said.

Alter and several fire chiefs hosted an event Thursday to drive home the importance of being prepared. She said it's important to remember that it doesn't take much for a major fire to start.

"The embers from a fire are really one of the things that we worry most about. And those can travel a mile, a mile and a half, so a wildfire can quickly spread through those embers far a field from where it begins," Alter said.

Which brings the conversation back to Steiner Ranch. The fire was said to be accidental, started by electrical wires.

And when it came time for people to evacuate, they were all fighting to take the same single route – one road in, one road out.

"Evacuation routes and evacuation planning is really important, and we are honing in on that. You know, right now we have commissioned a situational awareness tool which is going to allow us to be able to pivot and tell people," Alter said.

"The fact that there was only one exit out of Steiner Ranch. And so, now they have negotiated a second exit," said Barb Gressa, a neighbor in Steiner Ranch.

Gressa recently moved to Steiner Ranch and said being wildfire ready is a must in her neighborhood.

"After we moved in, we were contacted by a committee," Gressa said. "We took out the wood chips and we put in River Rock. We made sure our trees were trimmed back away from the house. They weren't touching the house."

All things Alter and fire officials say go a long way to prevent future tragedies.

Learn more about how to prepare for wildfires and what the City is doing.

Ford Sanders on social media: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

KVUE on social media: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube

Before You Leave, Check This Out