MITCHELL - U.S. Bureau of Land Management firefighters were scheduled to complete a 1,600-acre controlled burn near Mitchell Sunday, Sept. 21, in an effort to reduce hazardous fuels that could threaten homes in the community.
This controlled burn, called the Gable Creek Burn, was part of a larger schedule of BLM prescribed fires in the region this fall.
Central Oregon Fire Management Services fuels planners worked for months preparing the area near Mitchell by constructing containment lines and reducing fuels to decrease fire intensity, the BLM reported. They planned to only light the unit if National Weather Service forecasts showed wind direction, temperature, relative humidity and fuel moisture would allow them to safely burn.
Firefighters planned to use a helicopter, several fire engines and a 10-person hand crew to complete the operation.
The burn was expected to take about four days to complete and was to occur a quarter of a mile west of the Mitchell city limits. Its objectives are to reduce fuels near the community and improve wildlife habitat.
Firefighters also planned to burn the same day along containment lines on the 5,000-acre Pat's Cabin Unit, in preparation for burning the whole unit later this fall, officials reported. The area is on the John Day Fossil Bed National Monument, about eight miles northwest of Mitchell.
Firefighters may make preparations to burn an additional 640 acres on the John Day Fossil Bed National Monument with the Rock Creek Burn, located 10 miles northwest of Dayville. Fuels planners postponed the burn until next year so they could further improve the site for burning. For more information, contact Kendall Derby, National Park Service prescribed fire specialist, at (541) 987-2333 for further information about the multi-agency project.
Central Oregon Fire Management Services fuels specialists planned to burn more than 12,000 acres of Bureau of Land Management rangeland this month through their annual prescribed burning program. They routinely burn in late summer to mimic the natural role of fire in rangelands. Fires set at other times are hindered by moist areas, wildlife trails and other small physical barriers that keep landscape-scale burns from meeting objectives, according to the BLM.
"No one can guarantee the outcome of fires, but I believe we are doing everything we can to maximize control of it and minimize danger," said Tina Welch, Central Oregon resource area manager. "If we do not take active measures to run fire through the landscape on our terms, nature will do it with much less care."
Last year, Central Oregon Fire Management Services fuels specialists used fire to treat 44,710 acres. They safely burned 11,188 acres on the Prineville District of the Bureau of Land Management alone, the agency reported.