AUSTIN (KXAN) - A close call nearly kept Jessica Cougot and her family from their weekly picnic. On Thursday, a fire along Ed Bluestein Boulevard. began burning quickly just a quarter-mile from their favorite park and their home.
"It just takes a little bit of a spark from anything to start a huge fire," Cougot said. "Especially with the high winds yesterday, it really kind of scared us a little bit. Woke up and we could actually smell the fire from our house."
The fire next to Cougot's house – which only burned a few acres - was just one of three firefighters had to battle that day. She said – with that many scenes – she welcomes any additions to the fire department in the future.
"(I have) two kids and a husband," she explained. "I would be devastated if something like that happened right now."
Luckily, the city is adding 32 new firefighters and three new ladder companies next year. Austin Firefighters Association President Bob Nicks said his group will head back into budget talks with the city next month, hoping for money for more resources.
"Are we severely lacking in firefighters to cover major events like we did the other night?" Nicks said. "The answer is no. We're doing very good in those areas."
Nicks said the city needs more fire stations, especially in the most at risk areas southeast near the Circuit of the Americas and west on Highway 360. It also wants to see the Austin Fire Department expand its Wildland Division to take on wildfires.
"We're doing pretty well in most of the parts of the city," he added. "That's the good news. As the city grows and stretches, there are a couple of areas that need to be shored up."
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