Forest service using controlled burns to protect communities
Where there’s smoke there’s usually fire.
However, the smoke that could be seen just east of Fillmore Wednesday afternoon was to prevent bigger fires.
“It just takes one little spark in the summer and it’s off to the races,” said Bryce Monroe.
Monroe is a wildfire manager with the U.S. Forest Service and has seen his fair share of big wildfires in Utah.
That’s why seeing all the smoke near Fillmore made him happy.
The project he’s in charge of that has been in the planning stages for more than a year was finally happening.
“Our number one benefit is to protect the community of Fillmore and the surrounding structures,” said Monroe. “This helps to accomplish that.”
Many homes in Fillmore are close to the mountains right near the boundary of Fishlake National Forest.
There is a lot of dead wood and thick brush that has become overgrown in this area through the years.
It’s to the point where if a wildfire started here, it could burn out of control fast.
Fire crews intentionally started a wildfire Wednesday morning so they could control it.
“We’re trying to remove the heavier fuels, the stuff that’s going to burn more intensely, and bring it down to some more moderate light fuels that are easier to manage if wildfire starts,” said Trevor Riding, who is on the fire management crew with the Bureau of Land Management
The timing of this project couldn’t be any better.
With as dry as what’s being predicted for this year, it could be a busy wildfire season.
“I think the combination of the last few years being droughts, and then coming into this year, is what has people nervous about what’s going to happen,” said Riding.
It’s also why these controlled burns have become priorities across the state.
They give fire crews a head start before it really gets hot and dry.
“It’s just got people a little bit worried,” said Monroe.
Firefighters also say, more than ever, we all have to be careful with our campfires.
“We all like to recreate. I love to recreate, but we need to be cautious and not leave any unattended campfires,” said Monroe. “We get a lot of starts on the freeway from chains dragging and things like that. We have to be careful.”
It’s a message we hear every year, but the majority of wildfires in Utah continue to be human cause.
Since this wildfire season is looking like it could be a tough one, it’s a message fire managers really want people to think about.
“He’s welcome to our trees and enjoy everything outside,” said Kishinevsky. “But late nights, staying outside bud.”
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