By LYNETTE HAALAND
Four Points News
Austin Fire Department continues its investigation of the cause of last week’s greenbelt fire that consumed just over an acre between the University of Texas Golf Club community of Steiner Ranch and Lake Austin.
On June 13 after 4 p.m., Lake Travis Fire Rescue crews arrived on the scene near the 1600 block of Lakecliff Hills Lane to find a fire burning in the greenbelt, said Glenn Trubee, captain of prevention division LTFR.
“It never was a threat to the homes. It was probably at least a quarter-mile away,” Trubee said.
Initially, STAR Flight helped to fight the fire with water drops because it was deep into the greenbelt and access was complicated.
“We had access issues at first and that’s why STAR Flight was called out,” Trubee said.
STAR Flight arrived on scene and started pulling water out of the lake to extinguish the fire. But there were challenges because of personal drones.
At 4:37 p.m., Lake Travis Fire Rescue posted on Twitter: “#LTfirefighters working a brush fire in Steiner Ranch. Please land your drones and clear the airspace for @STAR_Flight_TC to make water drops.”
Travis County Emergency Services asked the community not to bring out drones because it interferes with STAR Flight’s work.
Lake Travis Fire Rescue fire chief Robert Abbott asked that “all drone owners, in the event of any emergency, do not fly your personal drones in or around the area of emergency. The drones impede on any emergency aircraft (STAR Flight Helicopter, Air Medical Transport) responding to the emergency situation,” according to the Steiner HOA message to residents the day after the fire.
LTFR utilized hand crews and its Wildland UTV to extinguish the remaining hot spots of the fire on Wednesday.
“Once we were able to get crews down in there, hand crews took over,” Trubee said.
There were 16 crew members working the fire and three engines. By 10 p.m., firefighters were finished. Total acres burned was 1.02.
The fire was initially investigated by the Travis County Fire Marshal’s office but then it was deemed to be inside of the Austin Fire Department jurisdiction so the investigation was transferred.
Michelle Tanzola, Austin Fire Department spokesperson, said that the case is an open investigation.
“Since that’s the case, he (the investigator) doesn’t want to say anything else about it for the time being,” Tanzola said.