AUSTIN (KXAN) — Nearly a week after it broke out, firefighters took full control of the 1,210-acre Smoke Rider Fire on Monday.
In Blanco County, there are only a few full-time firefighters.
According to Blanco County ESD 2 EMS Chief Ben Oakley, this took a toll on his team.
“To say they’re fatigued would be an understatement,” he said. “They’ve been working a lot of hours for nearly a week now.”
Oakley also said they are not normally responding to such large fires.
“The fires that we’re seeing are rapidly growing in terms of complexity, size and loss,” Oakley said.
To combat these fast-moving fires, first responders are encouraging their communities to become Firewise. It’s a nationwide program run through the National Fire Protection Association that helps neighborhoods get ready and react in case a wildfire ever breaks out in their area.
“Fires can strike very quickly and spread fast,” Austin Fire Department Wildfire Mitigation Officer Justice Jones said. “We need communities to have plans in place now and individuals to have personal wildfire action plans in place.”
In Blanco County — a population of around 11,700 — there’s only one Firewise community, leaving firefighters with plenty of ground to cover.
“During a typical wildfire response where structures are threatened, we must commit a large number of fire trucks to protect structures,” Oakley said.
To become Firewise, a neighborhood must meet with a local wildfire expert to complete a fire risk assessment.
Kari Hines is the Firewise coordinator for the Texas A&M Forest Service.
“Residents do have the ability to make a difference in whether or not their home potentially is impacted by wildfire,” she said.
According to Texas A&M Forest Service, there are over 100 Firewise sites statewide and over 30 of them are in Travis County.