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Austin firefighters battle Oak Hill brush fire....
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Rod
Mueller Community

Posts: 654
Joined on January 31st, 2008
Austin firefighters battle Oak Hill brush fire....
by Rod on April 17th, 2011

http://www.kvue.com/news/local/Austin-firefighters-battle-Oak-Hill-grass-fire-120007399.html

First, I wish the best to those who lost their homes or had to leave their homes.

Second, it for me raises the question about Mueller, and what might conceivably happen here if, heaven forbid, we have a brush fire in the prairie/fields nearby, and what might we be doing now to limit the hazard, if there is in fact a perceived hazard?

-Rod
 
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ret1ree00
Mueller Community

Posts: 333
Joined on September 7th, 2007
Austin firefighters battle Oak Hill brush fire....
by ret1ree00 on April 18th, 2011

Rod, Good question.

I don't think it's been a topic, at least from a protection from a fire hazard perspective, in the landscape committee as far as how to manage the risk.

The UT LadyBird Wildflower Center is involved in the overall management of the prairie and one of the parties that make decisions on how best to manage the resource. Perhaps that was a discussion in the design of the parks phase.

Prairie fires are a natural part of the ecology and while controlled fire could be an option in a rural setting they are not an option in an urban prairie. Hence the mowing that is done twice a year as a substitute for fire and grazing.

Aside from the grasses there is little tender/fuel to burn, so in my opinion a fire would be quick but not "hot" like the Oak Hill fire where there is a lot of dry brush.

It is a good question to ask for our next meeting.

Thanks,
Joe
 
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Rod
Mueller Community

Posts: 654
Joined on January 31st, 2008
Austin firefighters battle Oak Hill brush fire....
by Rod on April 18th, 2011

Thanks, Joe.

What you say is about what I felt in terms of assessing the odds, but I still thought it worth bringing up, including because of the relatively high density of housing here. That is, not much space between houses, and so on.

-Rod
 
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Mary Arnett
Mueller Community

Posts: 14
Joined on February 10th, 2011
Austin firefighters battle Oak Hill brush fire....
by Mary Arnett on April 18th, 2011

Hey Folks!
Just wanted to let you know what one other neighborhood is doing in response to the Oak Hill fires. The Barton Hills neighborhood watch group has some watch volunteers who have gone down to the greenbelt to plot the campsites they find with GPS coordinates and they are turning those over to APD to investigate. As you have probably heard by now, APD is getting the word out to homeless people about campfires etc. and the hazard that exists right now for fire.

I don't know if you have any secluded areas around you that attract homeless campsites, but if you know of some - you might want to think about reporting those to your DR if those sites could be a fire hazard to adjacent property.

Mary Arnett
Citizen Led Austin Safety Partnership
512-803-1540
CLASP President
 
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Janelle Dozier
Mueller Community

Posts: 93
Joined on November 29th, 2008
Austin firefighters battle Oak Hill brush fire....
by Janelle Dozier on April 19th, 2011

My opinion is that the danger of a prairie fire at Mueller is minimal for several reasons:

1. The prairie gets watered monthly when there is no rain the previous month. This keeps the grass and other plants green. In the countryside, there hasn't been real rain since January and plants are brown and dessicated. You can look at the Mueller prairie and see that the dominant color is green.

2. We have no dry undergrowth or tall dry standing grass in the prairie due to the mowing (and the watering).

3. If worse comes to worst, there are fire hydrants throughout the prairie and the fire department is next door.

4. Our homes are surrounded by green trees and green landscapes, so this vegetation is a hindrance to fire.

I agree with Joe that we should address fire risk at the Landscape Committee meeting. It could be that we should increase the prairie watering until the drought breaks. I think it is more likely that the empty land beyond Berkman poses more of a hazard which should be considered.

Janelle Dozier
 
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Rod
Mueller Community

Posts: 654
Joined on January 31st, 2008
Austin firefighters battle Oak Hill brush fire....
by Rod on April 19th, 2011

Mary, Janelle, thanks.

Indeed, Janelle, I had in mind the empty land beyond Berkman, as well. You have aptly responded on our prairie. I hope the Landscape Committee might discuss the empty land as well, but if that is not part of your charter, then one wonders who might be thinking about it--in City of Austin, or Catellus, or...

-Rod
 
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