CHILOQUIN, Ore. — The U.S. Forest Service and partner agencies are preparing for several large prescribed burns in the Fremont-Winema National Forest covering almost 5,000 acres. The burns may begin over the week of May 3, forestry officials said.
Two areas have been identified as sites of the burns. The LoMi prescribed burn is set for 800 acres near Klamath Marsh, off the Silver Lake Highway. The North 2 prescribed burn, estimated at roughly 4,200 acres, is located seven miles northeast of Chiloquin. Officials said that it is located near the burn scar of the Two Four Two Fire from September.
Firefighters are preparing lines and ensuring that resources will be on hand to control the fires. LoMi will likely be ignited by fire crews, while the North 2 fire may be ignited from helicopters over the course of several days, weather permitting.
"Prescribed burns are only conducted as weather conditions and resources allow, including factors like temperature, humidity and wind speed, and ensuring there are enough firefighting resources available to conduct the burn safely," the South Central Oregon Fire Management Partnership (SCOFMP) said in a statement.
Residents in these areas may see aircraft, fire equipment on roadways, and potential smoke impacts. Visitors should avoid the area of Forest Road 4502, which officials will be marking due to its proximity to the North 2 project.
Smoke could linger in the area for five to seven days. North 2 is close enough to Chiloquin that people who are smoke sensitive are encouraged to be prepared.
“While this may look a bit like wildfire response, especially the aerial ignitions for North 2, we are safely applying fire to the landscape to reduce hazardous fuels and restore forest health,” said Chiloquin Ranger District assistant fire management officer Evan Wright. “We are taking care to make sure conditions are right for both prescribed burns to be safe and successful to benefit our local communities, neighbors and the forest.”
Fire managers have been watching weather conditions over the past six weeks, attempting to determine the best window for these burns to go forward.
“The weather so far this spring has presented some challenges,” said Wright. “We are involving plenty of firefighting resources, as well as pre-positioning equipment which will be engaged throughout the prescribed burn process – from ignition to completion – to help ensure the burning operations stay within the project boundaries.”
SCOFMP said that the impacts of the Two Four Two Fire last year underlined the need for prescribed burns in the Chiloquin area, helping to protect the community from further unpredictable fires and improve forest health.