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Austin Fire responds to oven fire prompted by restored power service, urges residents to turn off appliances
The Austin Fire Department responded to a structure fire on East Seventh Street that was caused by an oven left on when the power went out. As power was restored, a fire started. No one was injured.
AFD is urging residents to make sure their cooking and heating appliances are turned off during the power outage to prevent such events.
The department responded to a separate structure fire on East 12th Street on Wednesday. Two people were declared dead on the scene and a third patient was transported to a hospital in critical condition. No cause has yet been determined and will not be released pending autopsy results, according to an update AFD posted on Twitter.
The department has received 18 calls regarding fire alarms since 12:01 a.m. on Thursday, in addition to calls regarding a trash fire, a smoke investigation and an odor investigation, according to city data.
Since the power crisis began early Monday morning, AFD has responded to multiple structure fire and toxic exposure calls, the latter of which have occurred when residents used charcoal inside their homes in an attempt to stay home. This can cause carbon monoxide poisoning, which can be fatal.
AFD has responded to 3 working structure fires today that were all related to fires that originated around the fireplace. Picture is from 6607 Brodie Lane. 20 apartments displaced. Unknown total pic.twitter.com/9UDuGCizjz
— Austin Fire Info (@AustinFireInfo) February 16, 2021
AFD has also responded to hundreds of calls related to broken pipes and collisions caused by the winter storm and resulting power and water crises.
As of 6 pm another 685 broken water pipe (BWP) calls to 911 since midnight. Many of those in the last few hours. Dispatchers are currently answering about 1 BWP call per minute. We are only able to respond to a fraction of these calls.
— Austin Fire Info (@AustinFireInfo) February 17, 2021
Local officials advise residents without power to do the following:
- Stay inside
- Dress in layers
- Avoid downed power lines
- Don't use generators indoor
- Use flashlight and battery-operated lanterns rather than candles and kerosene lanterns, which carry fire risk and fume hazards
- Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed and follow USDA guidelines regarding food safety during a power outage
- Turn off major appliances to avoid overloading electric lines when power is restored
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Matthew McConaughey is reportedly weighing a run for Texas governor in 2022.
The Austin resident and Oscar winner has been "quietly making calls to influential people in Texas political circles, including a deep-pocketed moderate Republican and energy CEO" as he decides whether to run, according to Politico.
McConaughey said a gubernatorial run is "a true consideration" while on a March episode of Houston's "The Balanced Voice" podcast.
Although most political strategists doubt McConaughey's commitment and viability as a candidate, some are still intrigued by the possibility.
"I find it improbable, but it's not out of the question," Karl Rove, a top Republican strategist with a long history in Austin, told the political news site. He added that the big question is whether McConaughey would run as a Republican, a Democrat or an independent.
Brendan Steinhauser, an Austin-based GOP strategist, told Politico he's surprised McConaughey isn't being taken more seriously. "Celebrity in this country counts for a lot," he said. "It's not like some C-list actor no one likes. He has an appeal."
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott plans to run for a third term and remains popular among Republican voters, 77% of whom approve of his performance as of April, according to the Texas Politics Project.
Some strategists believe an independent McConaughey run would benefit Abbott. But a recent poll from The Dallas Morning News and the University of Texas at Tyler found that McConaughey would beat Abbott, 45% to 33%, with 22% opting for someone else.
Mimi Swartz, an executive editor at Texas Monthly, mulled a McConaughey run in a recent opinion essay from the New York Times. "Texas may not be ready for a philosopher king as a candidate, much less governor," she wrote. "May the best man win, man."
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Some JuiceLand production facility workers and storefront employees are organizing to demand wage increases, better working conditions (including air conditioning in the warehouse) and pay transparency, among other asks. They are also calling on staff to strike and customers to boycott the Austin-based company until their demands are met.
JuiceLand responded on Saturday. "We are listening," the company wrote on their Instagram story. "JuiceLand crew now makes guaranteed $15 an hour or more companywide."
JuiceLand, which was founded in 2001 by Matt Shook and now has 35 locations in Austin, Houston and Dallas, acknowledged the rising cost of living across Texas and the added stress of the pandemic in an email to employees on Saturday, part of which @juicelandworkersrights shared on social media. "There's no denying that times are tough and financial security means more now than ever," the company wrote.
Organized JuiceLand workers rejected this proposal, according to a recent post on the @juicelandworkersrights Instagram account, and reiterated their demands.
"Cost of living in Austin is rising exponentially and will only continue to get worse with the tech boom," the post read. "$15 is barely a sustainable living."