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Pocatello prepares for fire season with controlled fuel disposal burn

Pocatello firefighters clear juniper bushes as they burn wildland fuel on the city’s East Bench. | Kalama Hines,
POCATELLO — As fire season draws near, the Pocatello Fire Department continued its preparation with a controlled burn of wildland fuel on the city’s East Bench.
Department spokeswoman Kim Stouse told that the planning for Tuesday’s burn began when the city’s environmental department secured the State Department of Land Western State Fire Managers grant. Assistant Fire Chief and Pocatello Fire Marshall Nick Christensen added, that grant was obtained three years ago.
Stouse explained that the goal of the burn is to clear out fuels in high fire threat areas — especially in urban areas.
“If a fire is ever to start, we can get the upper hand on it and prevent it from getting into homes and neighborhoods,” she said.
The city, Stouse said, is working on obtaining a similar grant in order to burn off fuels in the Johnny Creek area next.

Firefighters move between fires during Tuesday’s controlled burns. | Kalama Hines,
Tuesday’s burn is the culmination of a project that began last spring with the mastication of most of the fuels in the area, Stouse said. What remained of those fuels — primarily sagebrush and juniper bushes — could not be removed, due to the terrain, leading to the burn.
Eleven firefighters, with one structure fire truck and two brushfire trucks, worked the burns which will be extinguished at 4 p.m., Stouse said. The firefighters, most of whom was working overtime so all stations will be fully staffed and prepared for any emergencies, will remain on-scene until are hotspots are fully cooled, Christensen added.
Residents should expect to some smoke after the departure of fire crews. However, should any flames kick up, residents are encouraged to immediately call 911.

The controlled burns included around a dozen separated piles of wood, brush and other fuels. | Kalama Hines,
Christensen, who has led in the planning of the burns, said he has rigorously monitored conditions, waiting for the ideal time to conduct the burns. He said he has checked conditions maps daily for over a month and determined the wind, humidity and air quality conditions would be safest and ideal Tuesday. But, he added, involved firefighters were informed that the plans could be nixed if conditions changed.
As for the firefighters working the burns, Stouse said the work provided invaluable training for the fast-approaching fire season.
“This provides a great training opportunity for a lot of our new firefighters who’ve gotten experience with wildfires,” she said. “As we know, more and more wildfires are happening in urban areas, so it’s always good to get them out here and see what real fires are like and to practice fuel mitigations.”
The post Pocatello prepares for fire season with controlled fuel disposal burn appeared first on East Idaho News.

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