BASTROP, Texas -- The dust from the Bastrop County wildfire over the weekend will settle and the smoke will clear, but the job is not over for the Texas A&M Forest Service.
To protect nearby homes and the state park, a Forest Service spokesman said that they’ll continue to patrol the site.
“There’s burning embers that will take days to put out and go out on their own…That’s a natural process, but keep in mind that we will be monitoring this fire no matter what,” said Clay Bales of Texas A&M Forest Service.
Mitigation and prevention means being proactive and prepared. Now, new technology makes it easier for fire departments across the state.
Forest Service has several Simtables, a tool that uses data to projects images that simulate landscapes. Firefighters can then study past fires or create completely fictional ones, where variables like wind speed, vegetation, topography and number of emergency crews can all be changed.
Fire officials call the technology a game changer for training.
“There’s no way that we can predict what every single wildfire is going to do. So the more experience our firefighters and our decision makers have better prepares for them for wildfires happening in the real world,” said Kari Hines of Texas A&M Forest Service.
The agency brings its simulation tables to fire departments across the state for training. The Austin Fire Department is looking forward to having its own Simtable this fall. Earlier this month, it secured a $70,000 grant to buy a wildfire simulation table.
“We also intend to use it to really work with our community to educate them on wildfires, wildfire effects and to tie that back into the need to prepare,” said Captain Josh Anderson of the Austin Fire Department. “Because wildfires are such a dynamic entity, beasts if you will, it follows certain patterns. And through this simulation table, we’re able to determine where a fire will go in a particular community or in a particular neighborhood and that affects how a community is going to plan for that event.”
In October, AFD will begin the purchasing process for the software.