(Update: Planned burn canceled)
20-acre burn, to prepare for bigger ones; smoke may affect Welcome Station
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Deschutes National Forest fuels specialists have canceled plans to conduct a small, 20-acre prescribed fire Wednesday afternoon two miles west of the Central Cascades Welcome Station, at the junction of Century Drive and Forest Service Road 4610.
Fuel specialists had expected to begin ignitions at 1 p.m., with those ignitions lasting approximately two hours.
The purpose of this burn is to improve conditions for future prescribed burns in the area.
Larger burns are planned in the area in the future, Public Affairs Officer Jean Nelson-Dean said.
"It is creating a barrier to larger burns getting in an area -- essentially creating a line for holding a larger burn," she said.
Officials said prescribed burns improve forest health and resilience to future wildfires by introducing fire back into the Ponderosa pine fire-adapted ecosystem.
In addition, prescribed burns are important step in reducing the potential impacts of a wildfire to communities and critical transportation corridors such as Century Drive.
Winds are expected to keep smoke from going across the highway; however, there may be short periods of smoke impacts at the Welcome Station.
Signs along the highway will warn drivers of potential smoke and fuel specialists and Oregon Department of Transportation personnel will monitor visibility and road conditions.
Smoke may linger in the area for up to a week, though rain and snow are forecast for Thursday and Friday. Fire patrols will monitor the area.
The public is encouraged to close their windows at night and if smoke is on the roadway, turn on headlights and slow down while traveling through smoky areas.
The public’s health is important to the Forest Service, the agency said. While significant preventive measures are taken, many factors influence a person’s susceptibility to smoke, including severity and duration of smoke exposure and a person’s health.
If individuals feel impacted by smoke, they should avoid outdoor physical exertion and remain indoors. If people experience serious health impacts from the smoke, they should contact their doctor.
For more information about smoke and health, visit the Oregon Health Authority recommendations through this link: http://www.oregon.gov/oha/PH/Preparedness/Prepare/Pages/PrepareForWildfire.aspx#health