Controlled Burns in Kings Canyon National Park

June 19, 2008 8:41:04 PM PDT
Deep in Kings Canyon National Park firefighters began setting fires in the Zumwalt Meadow that they'll spend the next few days putting out. The National Park Service says intentional fires like this one across 192 acre area actually helps prevent large, dangerous wildfires.Deb Schweizer, National Park Service, says, "We know there is a certain amount of fuel out here but if we can come in under prescribed conditions and safely ignite the fire and reduce those fuels that helps prevent a fire further down."

Schweizer is expecting a very aggressive wildfire season this summer. As dead tree stumps and brush go up in flames, firefighters battle busty, canyon winds and hotter than normal temperatures. Schweizer says, "Today is a little bit hotter than we were anticipating so we are taking it very slow."

Up a hill, firefighters used shovels and hoses to put out a spot fire that had accidentally traveled across the road. Firefighter Michael Flores says, "It kind of crossed over to the embers and the winds it kind of caught a small log. We had to make sure it didn't get any bigger than that."

The National Park Service is warning visitors who come to Cedar Grove at Kings Canyon National Park that there is smoke in the air and several trails have been closed down. The road is still open so firefighters are doing what they can to keep the fire where it's supposed to be and away from visitors.

Flores, says, "It does still have the same dangers-- a spot fire can get away from us and then we'd have an issue and do the same thing as a wildland fire."

The Zumwalt Meadow hasn't seen a fire since 1997. The National Park Service is trying to continue the natural fire cycle of the area every ten years. Once the fire is out, officials say wildlife will form new habitats here. Rangers say the fire actually helps preserve the natural beauty of Kings Canyon National Park.


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