The recent unfavorable winds caused some delays on the prescribed burn on Thomas Mountain, according to San Bernardino National Forest Public Information Officer Stephanie Bishop. The burn was scheduled to end Thursday, June 22.

            However, with the availability of favorable weather conditions, the San Jacinto Ranger District made the decision to proceed with the prescribed burn Monday and Tuesday, June 26 to 27, with mop-up following for several days. 

            The primary objective remains consistent, focusing on working the interior of the fire and consuming the accumulated downed and dead fuels. Residents and visitors will see flames and smoke visible throughout the day and evening.

            Highway 74 traffic may experience brief closures due to aerial operations. These closures are to protect both the firefighters involved in the operations and the public using the highway.

            During these operations, certain areas will be temporarily closed to the public: Forest Road 6S13, Tool Box Springs Yellow Post Sites, Thomas Mountain Yellow Post Sites and the Ramona Trail. These closures are for the safety of both the public and firefighters involved in the operations.

            Prescribed fire plays an important role in forest health and in reducing extreme wildfires and their negative impact, according to the U.S. Forest Service. These fires also help reduce heavy fuel loads while simultaneously opening the conifer forest structure and maintaining the health of meadow habitats. 

            Fire also is used to enhance native plant communities and cultural landscapes, and improve wildlife habitats. Another goal is to provide defensible space for communities and developed areas within and surrounding the national forest. With all fire comes smoke, and the U.S. Forest Service works to mitigate smoke impacts from prescribed fires on the communities in the area.