INLAND EMPIRE, CA
CNS | Contributed
Controlled burns are slated to begin before the end of the month throughout the San Bernardino National Forest, including near Mountain Center and Idyllwild, where federal fighters will be igniting piles of dead vegetation and burning off excess foliage from the ground and air.
“The (U.S. Forest Service) plans to start prescribed fire operations on its three ranger districts this month, and (they) are scheduled to continue through early 2024,” according to a USFS statement. “The program considers wind, humidity, temperature and fuel types … when planning and implementing prescribed fires.”
The total number of acres targeted for the burn-offs could not be confirmed.
Roughly one-third of the 676,000-acre national preserve is in Riverside County, while the larger half runs through the San Gorgonio Pass and the mountain range to the north.
Slash pile burning, which as the name implies, involves torching piles of brush to clear space around fire stations, communications towers and other facilities, will be one of the principal activities. However, officials said a “helitorch,” or a helicopter outfitted with a gas pump that jettisons burning gelled petroleum like a flamethrower, will also be employed for larger burns.
Operations utilizing a helitorch occurred earlier this year during a prescribed burn that eliminated over-growth across four square miles around Thomas Mountain east of San Jacinto.
“There are a number of ways to reduce fuels, or combustible material, in forests, such as mechanical thinning, prescribed fire and pile burning,” the USFS stated. “Fire managers use prescribed fire to mimic the natural role of fire on the landscape and help maintain or restore ecosystems to a healthier condition and reduce wildfire risk.”
Burns are closely monitored and immediately suspended when there are signs of changing weather.
Officials advised motorists, as well as people on hiking and biking trails and in campgrounds, not to be alarmed by smoke and flames during the operations, which will be publicized in advance via roadside signage and electronic media, including the San Bernardino National Forest’s Twitter and Facebook pages:
No road closures have been announced yet in connection with the burns.
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