Authorities launch wildfire protection plan

Posted: Sunday, September 30, 2007

FAIRBANKS - State forestry officials are planning a series of prescribed burns to torch debris piles that have built up over the past three years.

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It's part of a wildfire protection effort being implemented by the Alaska Division of Forestry and the Fairbanks North Star Borough.

Forestry officials are hoping to begin the burns as early as this week if weather conditions are right, said Robert Schmoll, fire management officer for the Division of Forestry in Fairbanks.

Debris piles are located in three areas where firefighters have cut down trees to create fire breaks. The debris areas are the Little Chena Valley east of town, Old Murphy Dome Road west of Fairbanks and Old Ridge Trail off the Old Nenana Highway.

"As you get later in the year you get more chances for inversions and we can't burn with inversions because the smoke won't disperse," Schmoll said. "Right now is a good time to do it."

The plan is to burn about 200 acres worth of debris piles off Old Murphy Dome Road first, followed by 100 acres off the Old Nenana Highway. Third will be in the Little Chena Valley, the largest at about 1,225 acres.

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