Sunday, February 03, 2008

Control burns -- a necessary evil

Living in a world that is always on the verge of drought, one becomes very, very sensitive to the sight of smoke. When we first moved to the Prescott area, we lived on the other side of the Prietas, in Wilhoit. The settlement is in the foothills, with an incredible view of valley, mountains and mesas. The smoke curling from a single fire was visible for miles.

The threat in Wilhoit was brush fires; here in Prescott, it is a very large, very dry national forest verging right into town on two sides. Control burns are an important tool of the Forest Service in getting rid of dead brush, needle litter and other flamable tinder; currently, some 8000 acres near town are scheduled for burning in 2008. Though these usually take place in the autumn, when wind direction and other factors are optimal, part of the burn took place in January. I caught these pictures looking south about a month ago. The sight of all that smoke is frightening, even though one is aware that the fire is, presumably, under control. Better this way than Nature's way!


OmegaMom said...

Let us sing the praises of prescribed burns: two years ago in Flag, I got to see, from the office parking lot, the kind of a fire that scares the snot out of you, just pouring smoke and flames into the air, trees exploding into fire alng the ridgetop, etc.

With a west wind and the fire on the west side of the town, I thought we were In For It.

And then it hit a spot where there had been tree thinning and slash burns.

Poof. All gone! Whew!

Anonymous said...

We have them here also and every year at prescribed burning time the proburners and antiburners have at it in the papers, TV and wireless.


worldphotos4 said...

A good practice so long as it doesn't get out of control.

TomboCheck said...

It's not so bad, as long as the wind doesn't take all the smoke into town. When that happens, it gets a little miserable. :)

Granny J said...

dotter -- we had one fire a couple of years ago that DID get into town, totalling a handful of houses on the SW side.

bro -- aren't all your gum trees highly flammable?

steve -- our real problem is that our national forests are like young adults who have been over-protected all their lives and can no longer hack it out in the cold, cruel world. Our forests are quite at home with fire, but since we've prevented fires for over 100 years, they have grown fat with too many trees too close together. Pretty but very dangerous.

tombo -- between the greens and those of us with limited lung power, the PNF dudes are really hamstrung when it comes to fire fighting.

sheoflittlebrain said...

I'm not fond of controled burns, but as you say, a necessary evil..

Granny J said...

brain -- I agree. Of course, we don't have that other kind of smoke inversion they sometimes get up in Flag in the winter from wood-burning stoves!

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