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Intentional Burns: Using Flames Before The Wildfire

“We’re surrounded by green right now, does this mean that we’re safe?,” KESQ Chief Meteorologist Haley Clawson asked.

“Absolutely not. Unfortunately there’s a fair amount of dead components still sitting amongst our forest and wild lands, underneath the green from previous years droughts,” said Gregg Bratcher, with CalFire Riverside Unit. “The benefit is we don’t get a longer fire season,” he continued, “these deeper saturated rains we’ve had will keep them greener, longer into the season”.

Most projects in the San Bernardino National Forest are based solely on community defense.

Thinking back to the Cranston Fire in 2018, Matt Ahearn, US Forest Service, San Bernardino National Forest Battalion Chief, detailed, “…the type of fire behavior we saw, the explosive fire behavior. If we have a chance to break that up it drops the intensity of the fire, gives the retardant a chance to work, and it really dramatically affects the fire behavior in a positive way.”

When it comes to aerial ignition, there are a variety of methods whether it’s the helitorch or plastic sphere dispensers.

The helitorch, used to treat larger vegetation, has a sticky component and carries more heat. This tool has not been used in our forest in about 10 years due to the extremely dry conditions.

PSDs, a ping pong shaped ball that is filled with potassium permanganate and injected with ethylglycol. Their size allows them to fall through trees and not ignite until they’ve reached the dry needles underneath.

Not only does prescribed burning have a positive impact on attacking future wildfires, they also break up the vegetation and create a more diverse age range.

“They’re adaptive to our burning, our Southern California burning, so even though we get a fire go through, these things are going to re-sprout and be back in place in no time,” explained Bratcher.

It takes multiple resources to ensure a successful burn including South Coast Air Quality Management District for smoke production and the National Weather Service detailing the window to ignite.

“Not all fire is bad fire,” explained Ahearn, “There’s very strict parameters that we’re focusing on, many modeling techniques that we’ve used and the difference is we’re not in mid-summer… we’re getting the fire to do what we want”.

You can do your part in protecting your property by creating a defensible space. Click here for details on how to do so!

KESQ News Team

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