The Jan. 8, 2012, Lawler Fire was caused by an ember that remained within a pile of burned slash that had been ignited several weeks before, according to CAL FIRE investigators.
In a press release on March 30, CAL FIRE identified the pile burns, which had been conducted in the area on Dec. 19, 2011. The “deep-seated ember” responded to the 25-mile-per-hour winds in January and erupted into a wildland fire, which burned nearly 14 acres on Sunday and Monday, Jan. 8 and 9.
“Incidents like this are very rare,” said Daniel Berlant, CAL FIRE’s information officer in Sacramento. “CAL FIRE uses a multitude of different methods to clear brush including pile burning. We take every precaution available to perform hazard reduction burning in the safest manner possible, but in this case, nearly three weeks after the project was completed, the extreme weather conditions created a challenge.”
The burn project area was near Lawler Lodge on Highway 243, south of Black Mountain and north of Pine Cove. The Lawler Fire acreage was on the east side of the highway just north of the Forest Service’s Allendale Station.
As a result of the investigation, CAL FIRE is reviewing both its statewide and local hazard reduction burning procedures.
“Just last year CAL FIRE did a full review of its hazard reduction burning polices and added additional checklists to ensure safety,” Berlant said.