Driftwood piles being burned on frozen Pactola Lake

Burning piles on the frozen Lake Pactola.
Taken with my Droid cell phone a couple of hours after the piles were first ignited.

The driftwood piles at Pactola lake are being burned on top of the frozen lake surface. The six piles were ignited easily with a propane weed burner. I will post more pictures later.

Below is an update and better photos–taken with an actual camera.

UPDATE @ 8:52 a.m., Feb. 25

Dave Lucas, the Bureau of Reclamation dam tender, this mornings said that only about two inches of the ice melted under the piles. At 5 p.m. yesterday, he took an auger and bored a hole where one of the piles burned and observed that about 13 of the 15 inches of ice remained intact.

He said the piles that did not have a lot of large logs in them burned more completely than the piles that had the larger logs. The bottom layer of wood in the piles that ended up sitting in water from the melted snow and ice, did not burn completely. Some of those pieces are now frozen in the ice that formed after the piles cooled. But most of the wood in the piles burned.

Mr. Lucas said the project was a success and disposed of a great deal of the driftwood that had accumulated near the dam.

UPDATE @ 12:57 p.m., Feb. 24

Here are a few more pictures.

Burning piles on the frozen Lake Pactola.
This was taken just after they got the first three piles going, at 8:28 a.m.
Burning piles on the frozen Lake Pactola.
Taken at 8:30. They used an ATV to drag some logs across the ice to the piles, and for commuting from one group of three piles to the other group of three piles.
Burning piles on the frozen Lake Pactola.
Taken at 8:38 after the 5th pile was ignited. You can see the weed burner being carried to the 6th and final pile.

Burning piles on the frozen Lake Pactola.
A close-up of the propane torch.
Dave Lucas the dam tender, taken at 10:38. You can see how water from the melted snow is creeping out and saturating the snow within about 10-feet.

Dave Lucas, the Bureau of Reclamation dam tender, said the ice on the lake was approximately 15-inches thick, but the thickness varied at different locations. We don’t know how much of the ice melted under the burn piles, but he said after the piles were out, he would take an auger and drill through what was left to find out.

Besides Mr. Lucas, there were three or four employees from the Rapid City Water Department burning the piles. The U.S. Forest Service and the Rapid City Fire Department were consulted, but were not involved with the burning operation.

Burning piles on the frozen Lake Pactola.
Taken at 10:42.
Lake Pactola ice fishermen.
Lake Pactola ice fishermen.

A local TV station, KEVN, sent a reporter and a camera person to document the event. I assume it will make their evening news tonight.

All photos were taken by Bill Gabbert/Wildfire Today and are protected by © copyright.

Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire. Google+