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Forestry officials prepare for 13,000-acre prescribed burn near Chemult

File photo, courtesy of SCOFMP

This massive burn operation has been in the planning stages for some time, as fire managers look to consume dangerous fuels.

Posted: Sep 12, 2019 2:48 PM
Updated: Sep 12, 2019 2:57 PM

CHEMULT, Ore. — Forestry officials in the Fremont-Winema National Forest are gearing up for their biggest-ever burn, and this burn has been a long time coming. Starting Friday, fire managers will be burning up roughly 13,000 acres of land near Chemult.

"The primary objective of the prescribed burn is to safely reduce the build-up of dead/down and live surface fuel to a historic fire-adapted ecosystem," the U.S. Forest Service said in a statement. "The area will also be less susceptible to severe impacts if a wildfire occurs in the future."

Even at the beginning of the 2019 Fire Season, forestry officials had their sights set on this prescribed burn. When NewsWatch 12 talked to them in June, officials said that the plan was already several years in the making.

Now favorable weather has created the perfect "window of opportunity" for fire managers to make it happen.

The burn area is located about 10 miles southwest of Chemult. Beginning about four miles west of the Diamond Lake Junction where Highways 97 and 138 meet, the area extends seven miles south of 138 to the junction of Forest Service Road 70 and the Forest boundary, and from the western edge of the Forest boundary bordering Crater Lake National Park.

Fire managers will be using aerial ignitions to kick things off, and they expect the bulk of the burn to last between two and four days.

"Smoke may be visible during and after ignitions from parts of Highway 97, Highway 138, and surrounding areas," the Forest Service said. "Fire managers are working closely with local air districts and the Oregon Air Resources Board to mitigate the effects of the smoke to the public and local air sheds."

The Forest Service said that public and firefighter safety will be the highest priorities. There will also be traffic controls on Forest Roads 70 and 7015 while the burns are ongoing. There may be a bustle of fire personnel, vehicles, and equipment in the area.

"The public is asked to watch for prescribed fire signs, be aware of changing conditions/fire operations and, drive safely," USFS said.

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