Austin, Texas Firefighters Stretched Thin from Drought

With the excessive heat and dry conditions, firefighters are responding to a lot of calls.

Normally, they only have to worry about dry brush, now they're concerned about bushes and trees. The excessive heat and dry conditions are making their jobs very tough.

"With the triple-digit temperatures and heat index well into the hundreds – 105, 110. Temperatures like that, firefighters start out already behind the curve fighting not only the fire but the conditions as well," AFD spokesman Palmer Buck said.

The super-dry conditions give fuel-hungry flames even more to munch on.

Firefighters are now doubling up to fight these fires, which puts a strain on manpower and resolve. It's not just the flames they're battling, but the intense heat.

"The same gear that keeps the firefighters safe inside a burning building also keeps all the heat in. This is heat-sensitive material that's basically like an oven mitt," Buck said.

Dry conditions have made the most routine operation for firefighters a major challenge.

So the need to rotate them out is greater. Special rehabilitation areas are set up for firefighters to cool off and rest up before going back to the fire.

Firefighters hope relief in the form of rain and cooler temperatures come soon.

"We're going to have fire behavior that's going to be intense, and given the right conditions: wind and low humidity, we're going to be in trouble,” Buck said.

Buck also said faulty catalytic converters and cigarette butts are major contributors to fires. Also, the dry conditions are causing more water mains to break, causing loss in water pressure to fight fires.

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