We awoke this morning to what we thought was another day of cloud cover. When we went out to air the dogs it was still dark and we could see an orange glow to the Southwest. We climbed into the truck to investigate only to discover it was far to the Southwest. When the morning light brightened the sky we could see the orange hue of smoke filtered light and ash was on everything. A fire blew up overnight in Tehama County and the smoke covered Shasta County by morning. It seems folks all over California woke up to the same and worse conditions. CalFire named this one the 3-4 Fire. Last count had it at 1,000 acres. It’s not the biggest fire. There’s one far worse threatening Vacaville. Say a prayer for the folks down there.
I was in the Trinities this week and there was thick smoke everywhere. It’s burning season in Northern California. We had quite a lot of rain in late November. I assumed that some agency was doing a large burn project. However, I couldn’t see where the smoke was coming from. It appeared to be drift smoke.
During my drive down from the mountains I heard a news report. They reported that smoke from the Thomas Fire was drifting up the coast. I checked Google Earth that evening and the smoke had drifted nearly 500 miles from the Thomas Fire in Southern California to north of Redding. The residue of so many homes and so much wildland was adrift in this smoke.
There’s fire in the woods again!
Not like the Summer wildfires this time. This burning is for fuel reduction after logging. It’s part of our Fall preparation for tree planting. We prefer chipping slash and hauling it to the co-generation plant where it can be turned into electricity. In some areas that option isn’t available so we have to burn the slash on site. Getting rid of the slash reduces the fuel load for future wildfires that may occur. It also releases nutrients into the soil in the form of ash. Those nutrients give a boost to the young seedlings that will be planted at the site in the Spring.
We aren’t trying to get rid of all debris within units, but we want to reduce it to a reasonable level. A certain amount of slash and debris left unburned acts as impediments to erosion. Over time it breaks down adding organic material back into the soils. However, too much debris creates a fuel load that will support an aggressive wildfire.
Burning is only allowed on specific days when weather conditions are right. We avoid conditions that are too dry in which fire can escape. We also have to be aware of what direction the smoke is being carried on the wind to avoid smoking out populated areas. In California we’re required to prepare smoke management plans to determine what conditions are appropriate for burning as to not create a smoke hazard for local areas.
Fall is traditionally incredibly busy around here and this season has been no different. Things are starting to wind down so hopefully there will more time for posting.
The first big wildfires of the season broke out here yesterday. The Panther and Cedar fires were burn a ways to the South and just a few miles apart. With a strong dry North wind they made a good run. A huge column of smoke stretched over the valley and the sun was obscurred last night when I took these pictures. Hopefully the firefighters made good progress last night when the winds died down.
May first and we are already seeing forest fires. Dry down is well underway here. This doesn’t bode well for this Summer’s fire season. Here we go again.
Another fire broke out in the north state. This one is the Stafford Fire and is threatening the town of Hayfork. These fires with all the destruction and chaos they bring with them often finish the day with one last bit of drama.
Fire is upon the North State once again. It has been a few years since we have had fire like this. Thousands of our neighbors have had to evacuate their homes. The air is thick with smoke. The firefighters, air attack, and equipment operators battle the fires to protect life and property. Please keep the folks in the paths of these fire in you thoughts and prayers.
I opened my front door this morning to let the dog out, and the air is clouded with smoke and the smell or fire is strong. The Ponderosa Fire is burning about 15 miles from where I am sitting. As this drama unfolds the picture of the forest that I worked on for years is rapidly changing. Thinned timberstands, young tree plantations and acres of mature forests that I help manage. For people the fire is a tragedy, but to nature it isn’t good or bad only different. Nature is violently changing the picture of this forest that I remember. It will re-calibrate and fill the void created by the fire and a new picture is created. In the meantime the foresters and loggers work side by side with firefighters to stop this fire.