Monday, January 07, 2013
The Sandia Ranger District will be implementing a prescribed burn Jan. 23-24 in the East Mountains. The project is 30 acres and located east of the Village of Tijeras, west of the Zuzax exit, 1/4 mile south of I-40. Expect smoke in the area and be careful driving, as there will be additional fire apparatus on the roads.
The Talking Talons Prescribed Burn is a continuation of a fuels reduction program in the Sandia Ranger District. Up to 30 acres will be treated depending on the conditions of the fuels, winds and humidity. Smoke will be very visible from I-40 and the surrounding communities of Cedar Crest and Tijeras.
Frequent low intensity fires are natural and necessary components of a healthy forest. This ecosystem depends on fire to promote new vegetation, enhance habitat and reduce the threat of large fire. It improves public and firefighter safety by reducing the accumulated fuels that could otherwise contribute to more intense fire behavior under hotter/drier conditions. The broadcast prescribed burning process applies low intensity fire across the forest floor to consume small debris and ground litter.
All prescribed fire activity is dependent on personnel availability, weather (including winds and ventilation) and approval from the City of Albuquerque Environmental Health Department. The project, and approval for the project, is also based upon specific assessments, agency guidelines and safety protocols. During this burn, managers will continuously monitor weather conditions, including wind, temperature, and relative humidity. Fuel conditions including fuel moisture and the quantity of fuels are also measured. Smoke will be visible and expected to have variable affects to neighboring communities.
Fire managers make every effort to minimize smoke impacts to the communities while continuing to address the critical need to reduce the risk of severe wildfires around those communities. Tactics to keep smoke impacts as minimal as possible include canceling approved burns when conditions aren’t favorable, finding alternative uses for the debris in slash piles, timing daytime ignitions to allow the majority of smoke time to disperse prior to settling overnight, and burning larger sections at a time when conditions are favorable to reduce the overall number of days smoke is in the area.
In addition, the Sandia Ranger District coordinates prescribed fire plans with partners in the county, city and state, as well as neighboring districts, to reduce the impact of smoke on the communities.
Winds are expected to help support the project and the snow to give additional protection in the area.
A major perception is that the fire, during a burn, is being applied to the whole area at one time. On the contrary, the ignition and speed of ignition is very methodical and cautious. Firefighters use the wind to help carry fire across the defined project area . This project area, depending on location (near homes) will be divided into smaller blocks, have fire line in place and monitored by engines, and firefighters in a position called “holding”. They are there to assure the fire will not cross the fire line and if there is a slop over they are there to extinguish the embers. The fuels on the ground and live trees right now have high moisture content creating a safer environment for implementing a prescribed burn. If the moistures are too high in the fuels the fire will not even carry on the ground and in the trees.
The plan to implement a burn is created during the year. When the plan is approved at a higher level the Fire Management Officer (FMO) will start looking at a window of opportunity in line with the “prescription”. The prescription takes into account the type of fuel, amount of fuel, moisture of the fuel, weather including winds, temperature and humidity. In addition, we look at what resources are available to work the burn including our interagency partners. The Sandia District is located in the middle of a large Wildland Urban Interface we have very strict guidelines to follow including smoke management.
The formula to create a successful burn is monitored by the Burn Boss. If there is a change in weather that kicks the burn out of prescription, the Burn Boss will shut down the project by stopping ignition and will monitor the fire to burn out in the selected area.
The public can obtain additional prescribed fire information via the following:
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