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Prescribed burns common at this time of the year

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By Jennifer Garcia

Smoke drifting through the canyons in Los Alamos usually puts residents on alert, for fear that there might be a wildfire close by. After the Cerro Grande fire a few years ago, the threat of another fire of that magnitude is a real concern for Atomic City residents; and rightfully so. There are certain times of the year, however, when smoke floating in the air is a common occurrence and can be expected. From late October to early March, Open Space Specialist Craig Martin and his team go about Los Alamos intentionally setting fires.

Prescribed burns must be conducted to thin the foliage in the canyons, which in turn, reduces the possibility of a fire getting out of control, should one start up during the warmer months. Recently, Martin and a team made up of Los Alamos County firefighters and employees from Bandelier and the U.S. Forest Service joined together to conduct a broadcast burn in Pueblo Canyon, in which 10 acres were burnt. The burn was set on Nov. 8 and was wrapped up by Nov. 10. “A broadcast burn is a fire that is set in which the fire is applied to the ground with the intent of burning grasses.” Martin said. “You’re covering an area, as opposed to a pile burn, where you confine the pile (of grass or wood) and burn it.”


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