Prescribed fire at Lacreek

The Fish and Wildlife Service has been conducting prescribed fires at Lacreek National Wildlife Refuge southeast of Martin, South Dakota (map) over the last couple of days.

These photos were taken today by the F&WS as they added another 630 acres to the total area treated with fire.prescribed fire lacreek national wildlife refuge prescribed fire lacreek national wildlife refuge

prescribed fire lacreek national wildlife refuge

 

Satellite view of wildfire activity in the southeast

Above: A satellite detected heat from fires (red dots) and smoke in the southeast United States, April 7, 2017.

While the rest of the United States has a reprieve from wildfire season, firefighters in the southeast and the southern plains have been busy in recent weeks with wildland fires and prescribed burns.

The photo above shows heat and smoke detected by a satellite on April 7, 2017. We added the arrows to indicate some of the larger smoke plumes.

There were at least a couple of large fires in Florida on Friday, but any large concentrations of smoke from those blazes may have occurred between satellite overflights.

Judging from the heat detected in Kansas there was a great deal of activity in the Flint Hills — much of it was probably controlled burning by landowners.

Fire along the water

Every one or two years firefighters in Hot Springs, South Dakota treat a portion of the banks along the Fall River with prescribed fire. This reduces the woody vegetation that could otherwise build up to the point where it would impede the flow of water during a flooding event.

These photos were taken today by Bill Gabbert.

Previous times we have covered this project along the river.

Fall River prescribed fire

Fall River prescribed fire

Fall River prescribed fire

Burn bans and prescribed fires in Texas

Above: Texas Parks and Wildlife Department personnel who had been mobilized to conduct prescribed fires at the Matador Wildlife Management Area (map) reconfigured as a Strike Team of Type 6 engines after a series of very large wildfires broke out in the Texas panhandle. Photo by TPWD. 

On March 12 we wrote about the two Borger Fire Department firefighters who suffered burn injuries while working on a prescribed fire in the panhandle of Texas. One was seriously injured and the other was treated at a hospital and released.

Chris M. Schenck, the Statewide Fire Program Leader in the Wildlife Division of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department contacted us to clarify information about prescribed fire and burn bans in the state.

Here is a glossary of the acronyms used:

  • Rx: prescribed (fire)
  • TPWD: Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
  • CIPBM: Certified Insured Prescribed Burn Managers
  • NWCG: National Wildfire Coordinating Group
  • TCEQ: Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ
  • NPS: National Park Service
  • DOD: Department of Defense

***

By Chris M. Schenck

“Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) stood down our Rx Fire plans last week, though we were in prescription and had all contingency resources on location.  In fact we stood in the gap for  already committed Texas Forest Service resources.

Your comment:

“There was a burn ban in effect in Donley County but Texas law exempts prescribed fires from burn bans.”

Is correct, but may be a little simplified.  Here is link to the actual Texas State Statute.

Section D sec 352.081 (f.) [1.] & [2.] provide a little  clarification on Burn Bans and Rx Burning.

Essentially, only Certified Insured Prescribed Burn Managers (CIPBM) and Prescribed Burn Associations  may burn during a burn ban.

The State recognizes NWCG Burn Bosses as the equivalent of CIPBM as well.  Most of the time in my agency we are coordinating with the County Court of Commissioners  for a long time prior to burning.

State burning laws in Texas as in other states are fairly complex and a little tricky to follow.  Ray Hinnant a long CIPBM instructor wrote an article that is pretty helpful in understanding the rules.

In fact one of the first laws in  the Republic of Texas  shortly after 1845 prohibited “the burning of grass”.  This is still  essentially the case, then they go on to make exceptions.  Here is a link to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) regulations.

We have a very fragile balance in prescribed burning here in Texas as we are a 98% private lands state.

The events of last week often set back programs, public perception and spawn legislation.

TPWD is the third largest land manager behind (your former employer) NPS and the DOD. Burning on public lands is very significant  for habitat restoration and resiliency.

We have a great opportunity in Texas to “Rekindle the Fire Culture” and get more appropriate and responsible Rx Fire on the land.

TPWD Wildlife Division, has the privilege of providing Technical Guidance to Land Owners for Rx Fire and other land management activities.  Here is a link to our fire page.”

Two firefighters injured on prescribed fire in Texas

Borger Fire Department TexasTwo firefighters suffered burn injuries March 9 while working on a prescribed fire in the panhandle of Texas and were airlifted to a hospital. The Borger Fire Department  (map) has confirmed that two of their personnel, fire fighter Clay Lozier and fire chief Bob Watson, were injured transported to Lubbock for treatment.

According to Amarillo.com:

Borger Fire Chief Bob Watson remains in serious condition Saturday at the UMC Timothy J. Harnar Burn Center in Lubbock, according to BFD Lieutenant Stacy Nolen, and Borger firefighter Clay Lozier, who was injured in the same incident, has since been released from the burn unit.

News Channel 10 reports that the prescribed fire on the JA Ranch in Donley County was going well until a juniper tree torched, causing a spot fire. The firefighters almost had that contained when a fire whirl “threw fire 30 yards in every direction”, ranch owner Andrew Bivins said.

There was a burn ban in effect in Donley County but Texas law exempts prescribed fires from burn bans.

Smoke from controlled burn causes two accidents on Kansas highway

Osage smoke highway accident controlled burn
Scene of two accidents on Highway 56 in Kansas, February 18. The photo was taken after visibility had improved somewhat. Photo courtesy of Kansas State Firefighters Association.

Smoke from a controlled burn on February 18 caused two accidents on Highway 56 in Kansas two miles east of the Osage-Lyon county line. The series of accidents began when a truck was hit from behind when it slowed as it entered the smoke and the vehicle in front of it also slowed down.

The second accident happened when other vehicles stopped in the smoke to help those in the first accident. One driver was parked partially in the roadway when she was hit by another vehicle which then kept moving and hit two pedestrians who were helping one of the drivers in the first accident. After injuring the pedestrians the vehicle then hit another car.

The Osage County Sheriff’s Office that provided the above information reported that three people were transported to hospitals and five vehicles were damaged.

Dan Romine, Chief of Osage County Fire District #2, said the smoke across the highway was a lot worse than shown in the photo above when his fire department first arrived on scene.