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Smoke Billows From Prescribed Burn W. of Bend


If you saw a big smoke plume just west of Bend and got worried Thursday, it’s a prescribed burn to reduce wildfire fuels close to town. Officials are preparing for a potentially busy wildfire season.

Fire crews with the Bend-Fort Rock Ranger District burned about 107 acres of land seven miles west of Bend along Skyliners Road.

The smoke could be seen all across Bend, and had some worried it was an early wildfire..

Skyliners Road remained open during the burn, but the smoke concerned those in the area who were unaware of it. Fire officials say although smoke started to pick up during the afternoon, everything was under control.

“It’s hard for folks to see the smoke and not be worried,” said Jean Nelson-Dean, public information officer for the Deschutes National Forest. “But really, this is just a great opportunity to keep our forest healthy around us, the things that we love, make sure we’re protecting our homes right up here on Skyliners.”

Fire officials say this burn is significant because it’s the first time private homeowners have worked with public landowners to create a defensible space to protect homes close by.

The area was already previously thinned and pile-burned, and Thursday brought the ignition stage. It was due for completion Thursday evening, with mop-up and patrols through the weekend.

While some serious wildfires have resulted around the country from controlled burns pushed out of control, the Forest Service said they took all possible precautions to prevent that.

“We’re taking a great deal of caution when working this close to town, to make sure that we truly have a prescribed burn,” said Nelson-Dean. “We’re managing this fire, and we’re managing it very safely, and people should have no worries about things getting out of hand.”

Thursday’s northeast winds were favorable in directing smoke away from populated areas.

Katie Lighthall with Project Wildfire was on Pilot Butte Thursday, monitoring the burn from the east. She says the burn was a good opportunity to remind residents to take the steps to make defensible space around their homes.

“One of the things we promote at Project Wildfire is taking that personal responsibility on your property, so that in the event of a wildfire nearby, your property is going to be protected,” said Lighthall.

“When we’re talking defensible space we’re talking about cleaning up around your yard,” said Lighthall. “Getting those pine needles out of your gutters, liming up your trees cleaning up the dead brush around your house and around the trees.”

“All of that will help keep fire away from your home and away from the trees and away from your roof,” she added,.

Smoke from this burn will likely be visible for the next couple weeks, and smoke from Monday’s burn over by Black Butte still could be seen Thursday.

National Fire Awareness Week is coming to an end and you can still take advantage of FireFree’s free debris recycling at Knott Landfill and area transfer stations from now until Saturday.

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