Fighting Fire With Fire

Feb 11, 2020

Crews carrying out a prescribed burn in California.
Credit US Forest Service

A series of prescribed burns are expected to occur in several places across the region in coming days.


Close to 6,500 acres of forest will be intentionally set alight this week, if everything goes according to plan.


The US Forest Service is preparing for prescribed burns at three sites—two on the shores of Shasta Lake, the other in the vicinity of Lake Pillsbury in the Mendocino National Forest. 


Carol Underhill, a spokeswoman for the Shasta Trinity National Forest, said the largest is what she described as an up to 6,100 acre underburn that would take several days. 


“That one will be exciting and the smoke will be visible from Redding and it will have a lot of good benefits out there to the ecosystem and to the surrounding community.” Underhill said. 


The goal is reducing fuels. Underhill said August’s Mountain fire forced the evacuation of 4,000 people from the vicinity.  


Setting and carefully managing controlled fires during the rainy season, can reduce the impact and intensity of wildfires during California’s long dry season.  


Start dates are a little hard to pin down. Officials wait for a number of variables.  


“They look at weather conditions, they look at site conditions, we look at how many crews we will have available.” Underhill said. 


Firefighters were preparing to ignite both the smaller 90-acre area on Lake Shasta called Bear Mountain, and 285 acres on the west side of Lake Pillsbury today, if conditions are right.


The larger Green Mountain burn will likely occur later this month.