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Controlled burns planned near Idyllwild Thursday

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Thursday, Fire crews are slated to burn piles of brush and debris just south of Idyllwild, and residents and motorists are advised not to be alarmed by the smoke.

The slash pile burning is scheduled between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. Thursday in the area of Marian View Drive and Highway 243, according to the Riverside County Fire Department.

``Smoke may be visible from nearby communities but will disperse quickly and is not expected to be a health hazard,'' according to an agency statement.

Piles of dead or overgrown vegetation, along with other forest debris, will be set alight as part of the Upper Dry Creek Hazardous Fuel Reduction Program. The prescribed burn was timed to coincide with the onset of cool, moist winter conditions at the mile-high location.

By eliminating the excess foliage, ``the intensity and duration of a wildfire (and its) rate of fire spread'' in the area would be curtailed, enhancing fire suppression operations and public safety, according to the RCFD.

If weather conditions change, including an increase in winds through the San Bernardino National Forest, the controlled burn may be called off, according to the fire department.

Anyone with questions or concerns was asked to contact the county fire public information bureau at 951-940-6985.

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