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C.O.’s prescribed burns bring smoke near and far, in a bid to reduce later danger, when fire season peaks

About 2,000 acres have been ignited in recent weeks, to rob future fires of fuel

SUNRIVER, Ore. (KTVZ) --  If you see smoke in the air, it's fire, of course -- but of late, it's usually prescribed burns, not wildfires.

There were three more prescribed burns underway Wednesday around Central Oregon, to reduce fuel and get ahead of fire season.

The U.S. Forest Service, the BLM's Prineville District and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service came together Wednesday to conduct a prescribed burn a few miles from Sunriver.

"A lot of the prescribed burning we're doing this spring is directly in what we call the wildland urban interface, which is those forested areas directly adjacent to communities and homes," Deschutes National Forest Public Affairs Specialist Jaimie Olle.

This prescribed burn was five miles east of Sunriver along a Forest Service road.

In recent weeks, about 2,000 acres have been ignited in prescribed burns on the Deschutes National Forest. 

Even though the blazes can bring can smoke to the area, Sunriver resident Tim Loewen agrees with the practice.

 "In case a wildfire starts, it's very advantageous to the wildfire fighters, because they have then the access of roads, and the prescribed burns tend to be along the roadways," he said.

The prescribed burns will continue as long as conditions are favorable in areas where there's thick vegetation which could fuel a wildfire.

Olle said this time of year provides "moisture in our fuels (so) that it's a low-intensity fire, but they're dry enough that they carry fire."

 Conditions are also assessed for the likelihood the smoke will lift up and away from heavily populated areas. The Wednesday burn targeted about 300 acres. A prescribed burn also took place on 50 acres of the Crescent Ranger District and on 129 acres in the Sisters Ranger District.

Loewen added, "I don't think anybody likes to smell smoke, and doesn't like having that around. Anything we can do to prevent that and keep our beautiful Oregon wild countryside green and flourishing. I certainly am behind."

 Prescribed burns typically take a day's work to finish putting out, but some can extend into the next day. Olle said they'll continue working on the burn east of Sunriver throughout the week, if weather conditions allow. 

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Kelsey McGee

Kelsey McGee is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Kelsey here.


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