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Forest Service to conduct pile burning Wednesday along Highway 97 south of Bend

KTVZ file

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Fuels specialists on the Bend-Fort Rock Ranger District plan to conduct 44 acres of pile burning adjacent to both sides of the Highway 97 corridor between Lava Lands Visitor Center and just south of Vandevert Road. Ignitions will begin around 10:30 a.m. Wednesday and should be completed within the day, officials said.

Smoke and flames may be visible from Highway 97 and South Century Drive; however, smoke is not anticipated to impact roadways. Signage will be in place along the routes to alert drivers of pile burning activities.

After ignitions are complete, firefighters will remain on scene to help disperse burning material in ways that minimize smoke. Once ignited, piles are monitored by firefighters until declared out. No road or trail closures are anticipated.

Piles may smolder, burn, and produce smoke for several days after ignition. While smoke may linger in the area, there is a real benefit to burning this type of vegetation, officials said. The piles, created both by hand and machine, are concentrations of leftover materials associated with previous vegetation management activities intended to remove hazardous fuels that can burn during summer wildfires. Burning these piles will help prepare some areas for understory burning at a later date.

When smoke is present, motorists should reduce speed and turn on headlights. All efforts will be made to limit smoke impacts to area neighborhoods and communities. The possibility exists for smoke to settle in low-lying areas due to cool night-time temperatures. Residents in areas near burn operations are encouraged to close windows at night to avoid possible smoke impacts.

For more information on hazardous fuels reduction projects in Central Oregon, visit the interactive website at http://www.centraloregonfire.org/  or visit  www.fs.usda.gov/deschutes and follow on Twitter @CentralORFire. For further questions contact the Bend-Fort Rock Ranger District at (541) 383-5300.

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