Fire is a natural ecosystem process that shaped the landscape around Austin. It was a frequent visitor to our area. While fire is often viewed as destructive, it is also an important tool that affects when or how fires occur over time.
In recent history we have been very successful at suppressing fire in Austin. This has allowed our community to expand into less dense neighborhoods that interface with beautiful natural areas. This success has also caused the nature of these wildands to change, becoming more wooded. It has also allowed a buildup of underbrush and fuels. Homes are often situated directly adjacent to these areas.
Today, land managers understand that much of this wildland will possibly burn again at some point. They work to manage the land so that the risk to urban areas that interface with wildlands is mitigated or minimized.
In some cases this involves maintaining dense woodland canopies that provide wildlife habitat with vegetation that is harder to ignite. Where these woods adjoin neighborhoods they thin underbrush so that fire cannot carry into the canopy. In other cases they use mechanical methods and prescribed fire to manage for grasslands that benefit watersheds and reduce fuels for wildfires.
Accepting fire as a function of a healthy ecosystem while at the same time protecting people and property is a challenge that land managers and fire officials in Austin address as a continuing effort.
Visit the home preparedness section for additional information about steps you can take to help protect your home. To request a presentation about fire topics and homeowner preparedness, submit a request form or contact the Division's fire management specialist for more information via email (Lucien.Ball@austintexas.gov) or at (512) 972-1683.