Local firefighters participate in prescribed burn

prescribed burn 3Barbara Lawlor, Boulder County.   On Monday, firefighters from the Nederland Fire Protection District as well as from Timberline Fire Protection District joined other Boulder County firefighters in a prescribed burn at Hall Ranch. Called the Nighthawk Burn, the fire was ignited on Monday and will continue being monitored through Friday, October 16.

Boulder County Parks and Open Space and the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office Wildland Fire Management Program decided to conduct the prescribed fire because the fire ban had been lifted and weather was appropriate for the controlled mitigation fire. During the past week, Hall Ranch has been closed completely during the active ignition days. The exact closure dates will be dependent on weather conditions. Specific areas will reopen as soon as it’s deemed safe to do so by fire personnel.

Nighthawk will char approximately 75 acres located near the junction of the Nighthawk and Button Rock Trails.

Current weather patterns and predicted future weather conditions have brought relief from the warm, dry September. Both short-and long-term forecasts indicate a return to normal fall weather conditions. Local fuels and fire conditions have stabilized back to normal averages. There has been limited national, state and local fire activity, so firefighting resources are available for immediate response in the event of a wildfire start up.

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Firefighters and equipment will remain on the prescribed burn until the fire is confirmed as totally controlled by significant weather conditions or declared put out. The project area is well contained by Hall Ranch trails and roads. Local fire agencies will surround the burn area with engines and hoses during the burn.

Large plumes of smoke roamed over the Boulder valley and officials warn that the dense smoke could affect one’s health.

About 80 firefighters from most Front Range departments sent at least one crew. NFPD and TFPD each sent a single engine. Timberline firefighter Rob Savoye says that conditions were perfect for Monday’s ignition. The wind never got about 2 mph and the humidity was around 36 percent. Firefighters like high humidity.

“It was a busy but low stress day and burn was well organized and planned out,” said Savoye.

Timberline and Nederland’s responsibility was to keep the fire within the planned boundaries, using a dirt road as a fire break. Nederland would up below a hill that kept rolling burning embers on them which they handled.

Timberline’s initial task was to supply water to the smaller trucks that could navigate the roads that were difficult for the larger trucks that TFPD owns. They also worked on putting down a long “wet line” to start the mop-up.

Savoye says, “When we got to the hill where Nederland had been after they were relocated, we along with a crew from Berthoud flowed lots of water and dug a lot to eliminate the hot spots and burning stumps. This location took up most of out mop-up efforts.

prescribed burn emmit

Boulder County supplied lunch and a “killer” barbecue dinner for the firefighters.

For more information and to sign up for update emails, go to www.BoulderCountyOpenSpace.org/fall2015burn or call (303) 678-6211

Barbara Lawlor

Barbara is a reporter for The Mountain-Ear.