Dry conditions cause fire concern, but no watch issued

Published 8:34 am Saturday, April 28, 2018

Fire danger has been elevated this weekend as the forecast calls for dry, windy weather this weekend. Although the threat is not critical, there is a level of concern.

“When the snow melts, the grass dries and if you add heat and wind, you elevate the fire danger,” said National Weather Service Meteorologist and Fire Weather Program Manager Dave Schmidt.

Schmidt said high pressure will be building today with dry air, but the winds will be lower. Tomorrow, winds could be 25 miles per hour with a humidity level of 25-30 percent.

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The National Weather Service, however, has not issued a fire watch.

Schmidt said the danger of grass fires will be reduced once grass has greened.

“If you want to burn something outside, consult your local fire authority,” he said. “If they think it is dangerous, it probably is. And think twice about throwing cigarette butts out of the window.”

Austin Fire Department Assistant Fire Inspector James Halsey advised that residents be vigilant when burning outside, especially after a grass fire burned three acres south of Austin on Thursday.

“You have to have a permit if you’re burning something large in the city,” he said. “Make sure you pay attention to the fire. A lot of fires get out of control while people aren’t paying attention. You should have something nearby, like a hose, to extinguish it in case it starts to get out of control.”

Halsey also said that anyone with questions about burning in the area should call the Austin Fire Department at 507-433-3405.