Austin's local disaster declaration in the face of extreme wildfire risk has been extended as city officials and first responders continue to urge residents to ready themselves for potential fire incidents.

“While we’ve done more than most communities to prepare, the risk is also extremely high. And when there is a wildfire that’s larger, we will be tested,” Council Member Alison Alter said. “We want to be ready when that test comes.”

The overview

Mayor Kirk Watson declared a local state of disaster Aug. 15 given the persistent danger of wildfires amid high heat and dry conditions alongside a similar move by Travis County Judge Andy Brown.

On Aug. 22, City Council members voted to extend that declaration for up to four more months, pointing to the ongoing risks in the region.

The update allows the city to exercise certain emergency powers and secure additional resources if disaster strikes. Austin leaders' vote came after much of Texas was covered by a statewide disaster declaration signed by Gov. Greg Abbott earlier this month.

What you need to know

Community Impact compiled some information on preparing for wildfires and evacuations here.

Central Texas residents can visit the city's emergency preparedness website for more information on readying themselves for an event such as a wildfire and register for emergency alerts through the Warn Central Texas system.Current situation

Even with highly anticipated rainfall reported in the area Aug. 22, fire officials warned that an elevated risk of fires breaking out has not diminished.

“It is a critical and dangerous time out there. We’re going to work together as a community, as first responders, as city leadership to keep ourselves set up for as safe of a reaction as we can," Andre De La Reza, Austin Fire Department assistant chief, told council members.

De La Reza added the AFD is working with regional emergency service entities to ensure a “consistent, consolidated response” across jurisdictions in the event of a wildfire and related efforts such as evacuations.

Before unanimously signing off on the disaster declaration's extension, council members spent time checking in on civic preparedness efforts and ways for residents to stay informed about possible weather-related dangers.

Mayor Pro Tem Paige Ellis said residents should continue thinking about wildfire prevention, especially with fires continuing to pop up throughout the community. She said the AFD has responded to more than 1,000 brush fires this August alone.

Council members and representatives with Austin's emergency management office also asked residents to ready "go bags," or emergency kits, to keep on hand for events such as a fire.

De La Reza said AFD leaders are up to date on urban wildfire strategies, including evacuation procedures, and staff and equipment remain at the ready.

“We can always continue to strive to do a better and better response, but I feel like we have been upping the tempo and increasing our capabilities and our preparedness for that to match what the city leadership has been pushing and what our community expects from us,” he said.

Watson closed the brief council meeting by asking residents to be safe, take steps to prevent fires from ever breaking out, sign up for local emergency alerts and get go bags ready for any emergency that may happen.