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CONTROLLED BURN: The U.S. Forest Service is burning piles to reduce the fuel potential for future wildfires. The initial location is in Elko County, Nev.

Pile burning set for Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest

Burns through May will help reduce the threat of high-intensity wildfires.

Wildfires devastated plenty of land in 2017. To reduce such risks, the U.S. Forest Service can remove fuel that helps feed a wildfire. In part of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, crews began pile-burning in February and will continue through May, weather and fuel conditions permitting.

According to USFS, a prescribe fire is a proactive tool used to reduce hazardous fuels, or overgrown vegetation. Three general types of prescribed fire are pile burning, understory or underburning, and broadcast burning.

These tactics help decrease the threat of high-intensity, high-severity wildfires; reduce the risk of insect and disease outbreak; recycle nutrients that increase soil productivity; and improve wildlife habitat.

With a pile burn, firefighters ignite hand- or machine-cut piles of vegetation, a byproduct of vegetation or fuel management activities. Piles are generally burned during the wet season to reduce damage to the remaining standing trees, confine the fire to the footprint of the pile, and allow time for the vegetative material to dry out so it produces less overall smoke by burning hot and clean.

Certain factors determine the actual burning days:

• humidity levels

• wind speed and direction

• temperature

• fuel moisture

Burns only occur on days when weather conditions exist for smoke dispersal. You can get burn updates by visiting the forest’s Twitter account or Facebook page.

Steve Howell, a fuels specialist at USFS, says air quality considerations are an important part of the prescribed burn, and each burn is planned to disperse smoke rapidly and to reduce lingering haze.

“Before each prescribed fire is ignited, fire managers will get approval from the local air quality district in which the burn is to take place,” he says.

When pile-burning, only small areas are burned at a time to allow fire crews to halt burning activity if anything is out of the prescribed conditions, such as too much wind. Crews can start again when conditions are more acceptable.

Fire managers create a burn plan, which includes smoke management, fire control measures, weather parameters, and equipment and personnel needs. The burn plan also describes in detail how the ecosystem will benefit from fire.

The initial burn location is in Elko County, Nev. The service reported that roughly 50 acres of pile burning is planned in the Bear Creek Watershed Project area located about 1 to 5 miles west and southwest of Jarbidge, Nev. The burning will occur along a 4-mile stretch of Forest Service Road 58277, between Jarbidge and County Road 748, also known as the Charleston-Jarbidge Road.

The service asks that the public not call 911 about burning in the areas noted below. Local fire departments are aware of the burning activities. For information on pile burning activities on the Mountain City-Ruby Mountains-Jarbidge Ranger District, call Steve Howell at 775-884-8114.

Source: U.S. Forest Service

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