Prescribed burns coming into Amarillo city limits

Prescribed burns coming into Amarillo city limits
Lots of brush like this in Amarillo are fuel for wildfires, says AFD (Source: KFDA)
Lots of brush like this in Amarillo are fuel for wildfires, says AFD (Source: KFDA)
Source: KFDA
Source: KFDA
Source: KFDA
Source: KFDA

AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) - For the first time, people in Amarillo could start to see controlled burns taking place inside city limits.

The Amarillo Fire Department has been working for years to develop a Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP), and bringing prescribed burns into the city is part of that process.

The Texas A&M Forest Service will work with AFD to create this plan.

Having an established CWPP will make the fire department eligible for grants to help fund new training and new equipment specifically to enhance prescribed burns.

Fire officials say there are a lot of locations in the city where overgrown brush is a hot spot for potential wildfires.

"The city is over 100 square miles in area and throughout the cities there's a lot of undeveloped properties or there's properties that are developed mixed with undeveloped properties," said Deputy Fire Chief Sam Baucom. "So there is a large mix of the wild land and the urban interface."

AFD plans to start mowing down and removing this excess brush, and doing controlled burns where necessary.

That could mean burning near, between or around houses.

But residents would get plenty of warning.

"A prescribed fire is just that, it's something that takes a lot of time to plan out," said Baucom. "It's not something where we would just go out and decide, well we're going to burn off some grass today. It takes weeks or months to plan it all out."

And of course wind activity will halt any controlled burns no matter how far in advanced they were planned.

No land can start burning until an official city ordinance is created, authorizing these burns.

Such an ordinance will be presented at the Amarillo City Council meeting next week

A proclamation supporting the development of a CWPP was granted to AFD at this past Tuesday's council meeting.

"With the push for us to develop a wildfire program, it has taking a couple of years for us to get some of the qualifications, some of the equipment that we need, and also to get support throughout the local and state communities."

Once an ordinance passes, AFD will have to wait for authorization from the Texas Department of Agriculture and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality before burning starts.

Some firefighters have already been signed up to start controlled burn training near Austin this October.

Baucom said the department will not get its wildfire truck until next summer, and there's still lots of training to do before you start seeing controlled burns near you.

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