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Croatan on fire because of prescribed burns

By Tori Shaw
Published On: Feb 06 2013 05:09:38 PM CST
JONES COUNTY -

There is more to a prescribed burn than lighting a torch and starting a fire.  Before crews can hit the forest, it all begins with the most important element, the weather.

"We like humidity to be anywhere between 30-40 percent. Then, we like the wind speed no more than 18 miles an hour," said James Cherry, Fire Management Officer.

The direction of the smoke and the path of the fire are two important issues.  One of the main goals is to keep the smoke away from smoke sensitive areas.

"Smoke sensitive areas could be a major highway, town, hospitals, residents and those types of things so we try to work with the wind to get away from those areas," said Cherry.

The briefing before the fire is like a team getting ready for a game.  Everyone has an assignment.  Then, the crews hit the ground and also by air with a helicopter equipped with a mixture of potassium magnamate that when dropped to the ground start a fire.

The Croatan National Forest has a 98percent success rate, but every fire is a learning experience from a prescribed fire and the wildfire this past June.

"In the past, we may have checked on the fire 2-3 times a day.  We may increase it to 5-6 times a day," said Cherry.

Constant communication with other agencies and close monitoring are some things taken away from the DAD Fire Analysis.