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Michelle Tessier, Deseret News

Carbon County crews starting trees on fire to help — not hurt

By Alex Cabrero and Rachel Konishi | Posted - Jun. 12, 2014 at 10:30 p.m.

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CARBON COUNTY — Fire crews in Carbon County are starting their own fires in order to prevent bigger, more out of control fires, and they are using a helicopter to do so.

Crews with the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands intentionally set a fire on the Tavaputs Plateau in Carbon County.

“By burning those conifers, we stimulate the growth of the aspen, which benefits the health of the wildlife and it’s also harder to have a catastrophic fire,” said Steve Rutter of the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands.

However, the division wants to burn the crowns, or the top part, of the trees. There isn’t enough to keep the fire burning from the bottom to the top of the trees, so crews are lighting the fire from the top down using a helicopter.

Crews use a helicopter to drop flammable gel and fuel on trees to start fires. The scene looks like a Hollywood special effect, but Rutter is assured the whole scene is controlled.

“We do it under controlled situations so we don’t have that catastrophic fire and impact the citizens we’re trying to protect,” Rutter said.

This project has been going on in segments for the past few years. Not only will it allow for a healthier forest in the long run, but will also benefit wildlife in the area.

“The last time we burned here, we had 8,000 stems or starts per acre of aspen, and the wildlife and wild horses love it,” Rutter said.

His colleague in the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands, Jason Johnson, agreed.

“It’ll be beautiful and it’ll be lush,” Johnson said.


Alex Cabrero
    Rachel Konishi


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