Fire department to conduct controlled burn
By Staff Sgt. Benjamin Rojek, 30th Space Wing Public Affairs
/ Published January 21, 2009
VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- The 30th Civil Engineer Squadron fire department is scheduled to conduct a controlled burn between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. sometime between Friday and Feb. 23, depending on the weather, between Terra Road and the Santa Ynez River.
The objective of the Ponds Burn is to eliminate the grasses and vegetation in the old water treatment reservoirs to allow for the right oxygen level to be established inside the ponds and should only take one day.
"The nature of the burn is similar to a burn pile," said Jesse Hendricks, a fire captain with the 30th CES fire department's Hot Shots. "It is relatively small in size, only 10 acres. The fuels that will be burning are grasses and previously cut brush laying on the ground."
This burn will make for a better breeding habitat for endangered species, Mr. Hendricks said. Also, with the removal of the vegetation the risk of breaching the bentonite clay layer of the ponds will be greatly reduced.
The fire department has an annual target of 5,000 acres for these controlled burns, but some years are harder than others to complete this goal. This had to do with California Air Resource Board authorized burn days and when the weather is in prescription.
"Hot and dry weather is what usually makes for a 'No-Burn Day,'" Mr. Hendricks said. "This is when the temperatures are up and the relative humidity is down. This allows the vegetation to be more readily available to burn and heightens the chance for an escaped/uncontrollable burn."
The same rules apply to the Ponds Burn and weather will dictate when the burn is conducted. The burn may slip for days or even weeks due to weather and/or lack of an authorized burn day.
Control burns are usually used for hazard reduction, Mr. Hendricks said. The idea is for the vegetation to be burned in a controlled environment as opposed to a wildfire. Another use is for a particular purpose, like the Ponds Burn. The area of the Ponds is a controlled habitat that mechanized equipment, an alternate to remove the vegetation, would be too harsh