Forest Service burning on Thomas Mountain

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Signs explaining a prescribed burn were placed along Highway 74 in Garner Valley early this week. The burn focused on the Thomas Mountain area. The burn may go through the weekend, depending on weather conditions.
Photo by Halie Wilson

On Monday, April 2, the U.S. Forest Service resumed burns on Thomas Mountain.

In January, the Forest Service burned about 240 acres. About 200 acres are left on the unit between Anza and Garner Valley, according to Zach Behrens, public affairs officer for the San Bernardino National Forest.

The project could last over a week; burning each day is dependent on a variety of daily conditions, Behrens added.

In January, the Forest Service conducted a broadcast burn and three pile burns. A broadcast burn may be employed this week, too.

Fire agencies use prescribed burns to help with control potential wildfires. “In order to safely defend structures and put firefighters between homes and a wildfire, we need to create defensible space,” said Jaime Gamboa, SBNF fire management officer. “Just like homeowners clearing brush around their homes, we want to clear heavy fuels around communities.”

Timing of prescribed burns depends on a number of factors, including air quality, winds and moisture levels. The projects take years of planning. When that and preparations are completed, firefighters must wait for a window of time when conditions are safe for burning.

On April 2, the U.S. Forest Service resumed its pile burning in the Thomas Mountain area. The smoke can be seen rising over Lake Hemet.
Photo at right by Steven King

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