It’s burn season again

Published 6:45 pm Tuesday, March 8, 2011

MAKING SURE THE FIRE BREAK is holding is Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Tech IV Brian Vickery, who commanded the control fire Monday of more than 2,400 acres.

This week, the conditions were great for a controlled burn—there were winds that pushed smoke away from Bainbridge and a smoke plume that looked to be going straight up.

The Department of Natural Resources conducted a controlled fire of more than 2,400 acres on the Hog Farm tract of Silver Lake Wildlife Management Area Monday as well as several islands on Lake Seminole.

And according to Brian Vickery of the DNR, the conditions for the helicopter-assisted control burn was ideal Monday.

Email newsletter signup

“That’s the biggest thing about these controlled fires is the smoke,” Vickery said.

EYEING A BACKFIRE, the pilot of a state helicopter uses the smoke from a backfire to pinpoint locations for the dropping of ping-pong ball-like incendiary devices to light the main fire Monday at the Hog Farm tract of Silver Lake Wildlife Management Area.

Smoke from controlled fires can create quite a hazard if the winds shift to move the smoke into more populated areas or smoke doesn’t disperse into the upper levels of the atmosphere, but instead hovers just about the ground.

Vickery said Monday’s forecast was perfect and the controlled fire that started at approximately 11 a.m. had DNR crews putting up their equipment by 2 p.m.

The controlled fires were concentrated in a previously thinned area of the Hog Farm tract that doesn’t have a known population of the red-cockaded woodpeckers. The forest around those endangered birds have to be burned more carefully. Most of the populations of those birds are on the tracts surrounding Silver Lake and the old house on the WMA.

In Monday’s fire, a state helicopter using ping-pong ball-like incendiary devices were shot from the helicopter to set most of the fires. Other DNR personnel on four-wheelers with torches mounted on the back set the back fires.

Vickery said the DNR is trying to put all of Silver Lake WMA on a three-year controlled fire rotation. However, some areas of the tract still need to be thinned before any fire could do any good. Areas of the tract with too many trees and too much understory will get too hot from a control fire and kill the vegetation. He said the state is looking to thin those areas out in the near future.