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AFD Investigating Whether Fireworks Caused Fires

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

The Austin and Travis County fire departments have responded to dozens of grass and trash fires in the last 24 hours. Crews responded to 29 small grass fires and 11 trash fires.

But, they say, for a hot, dry Fourth of July, there were actually fewer fires than they expected.

Most of the fires are still under investigation but Battalion Chief Thayer Smith says fireworks were likely involved in many.

“When you have 29 grass fires on the 4th of July and on the 3rd of July you only had two, certainly you would expect that the majority of those grass fires are obviously going to be related to fireworks in some form or fashion," said Smith.

Fire crews also responded to three structure fires this morning. Investigators determined one house fire in East Austin was arson. They deemed it a "total loss." No one was hurt, but the fire caused more than $80,000 in damages.

Another fire heavily damaged a mobile home on Williamson Creek Drive. No one was injured.

Fire crews are concerned that they could be busy with more fireworks-related fires this weekend as people continue to celebrate the holiday.

The use and possession of fireworks is illegal in the City of Austin.

Travis County is under a burn ban. And just this morning, Hays County also enacted an emergency burn ban.

Laura first joined the KUT team in April 2012. She now works for the statewide program Texas Standard as a reporter and producer. Laura came to KUT from the world of television news. She has worn many different hats as an anchor, reporter and producer at TV stations in Austin, Amarillo and Toledo, OH. Laura is a proud graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia, a triathlete and enjoys travel, film and a good beer. She enjoys spending time with her husband and pets.
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