Helping prevent catastrophic fires with a prescribed burn

In order to help prevent larger fires, the U.S. Forest Service performed a prescribed burn several miles west of Rockerville Tuesday.

Black Hills FOX Reporter Katrina Lim takes us close to the flames to see how they do it.

A prescribed burn near Boulder Hill Road has left nearly 200 acres of national forest scorched but safer.

About 50 Forest Service personnel applied fire to pre-determined areas of the land.

Burn Boss Trainee Josh Morgan says, "We've got three engines out here - three type six engines so with us burning 188 acres today, it is kind of a smaller scale burn organization, but sufficient for what we've got going on today."

The old Battle Creek fire engulfed 13-thousand acres of the Black Hills in 2002, and the Forest Service is trying to prevent large ones like that from happening again.

The Battle Creek fire left much of the Black Hills National Forest in a mosaic pattern.

Burn Boss Trainee Josh Morgan says, "Developed a mosaic pattern. We're just looking to continue to keep that mosaic pattern then to the landscape, looking to reduce some of the hazardous fuels that are on the ground from that fire to prevent some more large catastrophic fires here in the future."

Forest service workers take several things into consideration when performing prescribed burns.

They must determine what vegetation needs to be burnt and left unburnt, consider the history of past fire events over the landscape, and determine the results of the burn.

Morgan says prescribed burns help maintain biodiversity and rehabilitate vegetation after harvesting or mining.

Burn Boss Trainee Josh Morgan says, "It helps reduce the intensity of the fires in the future. It also - we got some residents in the area not too far from here. You got the highways here so looking to kind of keep that - act as a fuel break and by implementing prescribed burns it keeps the fire in the ecosystem which ultimately helps with the fire in the future."

The burn should wrap up today, but Morgan says folks will be seeing smoke for a couple days afterwards.