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AFD Spends Quiet 4th of July Weekend

Photo by Callie Hernandez for KUT News
Austin Fire Department only had to fight two small brush fires this Fourth of July, drastically less than other fireworks holidays.

The Austin Fire Department only responded to two fires on the 4th of July, compared to 50 on last New Year's Eve.

AFD Battalion Chief Thayer Smith attributes the reduction of fire to people complying with a statewide personal fireworks ban. He confirmed that personal fireworks were responsible for at least one of the two fires reported yesterday in Austin. The department never had to call out their 12 brush trucks to combat the fires outside of normal fire operations.

“It was drastically less than any fireworks holiday we’ve ever had, and I think that was due to the ban and the citizens complying with it and the citizens having an understanding of what the potential could have been,” Smith said.

The whole weekend was quiet for the department, he said. Smith said he hopes Austinites will keep up that attitude.

“Fireworks aren’t the only concern. Certainly cigarettes are a concern or outdoor burning is a concern. We’re not out of the woods yet just because the Fourth is over,” he said.

Austin canceled its city fireworks shows due to dangerous drought conditions that caused wildfires across the state in May. Nearby, Kyle and Georgetown both had displays. Kyle Fire Department Chief Glenn Whitaker said the city had zero incidents of fire on Independence Day.

“I know there was lots of concerns and I got a little flak over it, but it did exactly what I predicted. We had no fires from the fireworks at all,” Whitaker said.

Droughts and burn bans continue in Travis County and throughout the state. The drought began in October. Last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture declared 213 of Texas’ 254 counties a natural disaster area.

Audrey White is a news intern at KUT. She is currently studying at the University of Texas at Austin.