CROATAN, N.C. (WNCT) – For many, fire is seen as a bad thing, but controlled burns in forests like the Croatan National Forest are actually a vital part of a healthy forest
“Not all fire is bad,” said David Nelson, assistant fire management officer for the Croatan Ranger district of the U.S. Forest Service.
Whether by air or by ground, the fires are part of a master plan.
“What we do is try to come in every couple to three years and do a low intensity understory prescribed burn, which removes the brush and natural grasses,” explained Nelson. “If we didn’t burn, there would be an unnatural buildup of hazardous fuels that would burn with maybe 100 to 150-foot flame lengths, torching out the tops of the trees, and it would be an uncontrolled wildfire.”
Forest rangers have safe controlled burns down to a science.
The conditions require “winds below 20 miles per hour, humidity at or above 25 to 30-percent, and enough smoke dispersion to disperse the smoke we’re creating,” said Nelson. “The main smoke, working with the Weather Service and we have computer modeling to try to funnel that away from communities and highways but there’s still residual smoke for a couple following days.”
Nelson said to get rid of the smoke they work with the Weather Service and use computer modeling “to try to funnel that away from communities and highways, but there’s still residual smoke for a couple following days.”
Tuesday’s 1,000-acre burn is just a small chunk of the 10,000 to 15,000 acres they hope to burn in 2017 alone.