AUSTIN (KXAN) — Independence Day cookouts are an annual tradition for many folks.
However, they are also a yearly concern for local firefighters in Central Texas.
With plenty of people planning to set off sparks tonight, Lake Travis Fire Rescue is prepared.
“Fireworks are synonymous with celebrating the Fourth of July, so our stations are staffed up and ready to respond,” Lake Travis Fire Rescue spokeswoman Rachel Neutzler said.
On Saturday night, their crews helped put out a large house fire near Lake Travis.
The property sustained more than $2 million’s worth of damage and is classified as a “total loss” according to the Volente Fire Department.
The homeowner, who was home alone at the time of the fire, escaped without injury.
“If you have a fire in your home, you typically have less than three minutes to get out of your home before the conditions inside your home are fatal,” Neutzler said.
Abigail Bautista and her family drove from Dallas to Austin to gather and grill.
This year, they elected to celebrate the festivities without their own fireworks.
“With the wind being what it is and it being extremely hot this summer, we were like, ‘No, we don’t want to risk it ourselves,’” Bautista said.
Although Independence Day signifies the start of the summer grilling season, July is the peak month for grill fires.
“Make sure you stay with the grill,” Neutzler said. “We see a lot of fires happen when people walk away from the grill, and it’s unattended.”
This summer’s historic heat wave and dry conditions have Lake Travis firefighters on high alert.
“We’ve got grass that’s dried out. We’ve got vegetation that’s dried out,” Neutzler said. “It really only takes a spark in order for that to start a major wildfire.”
According to the National Fire Protection Association, 10,600 home fires are started by barbecues on average grills each year.