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Wildfire risk gets an interactive face

Wednesday, January 9, 2019 by Jessi Devenyns

Wildfires are a very real threat in Central Texas, and after the devastation experienced this fall in Malibu and Paradise, Calif., the Austin Fire Department’s Wildfire Division wants to make sure the public knows exactly how dire the threat is. Justice Jones came to the Jan. 7 meeting of the Public Safety Commission to share that AFD has rolled out an online simulation of wildfire risk in the county. Jones explained that the department has the capability to use that data to replicate how fires spread depending on where they begin. “We can simulate wildfire in any square in Austin and Travis County,” he said. According to him, approximately 647 miles within Austin city limits is at risk. The areas most at risk are in the wildland urban interface, the transition zone between human development and unoccupied land. While there is no foolproof way to predict fires, Jones said he hopes to use the data to better understand where vulnerable populations are and how they can recover after wildfires. He encourages all Austinites to join the Firewise Program to learn how to protect themselves and their property against a potential blaze.

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