Diary of a Burn Boss, Part 1

Written by Blane Heumann, The Nature Conservancy's Director of Fire Management

Fueling the Burn Crew

Here, almost everyone is looking at the camera - it's like herding cats!  The crew is enjoying beef jerkey donated by Jim and Joan Sample.

Wetland Grass Burn

The wetland grass fuels burn hot and fast. The wall of flames in the background of the above photo averages eight feet tall. All fire was safely contained in the unit.

Joint crew training was held at Wah' Kon-Tah Prairie the week of Feb 20. Here Doug demonstrates how to fiddle with controls on water spray unit. Justin Jones, on the left, has accepted a position with the Conservancy in Florida and will be leaving our crews for his new staff position in late March. Justin's energy and enthusiasm will be missed, although he appears to be listening hard in this photo.

 March 14, 2007  

Doug Ladd is out of moth balls (a phrase usually reserved for grand old battle ships but you can decide if it fits) and producing smoke from native fuels as he leads burns for Stasia's crew in southwest Missouri. They have completed burns at Goodnight-Henry prairie, 20 acres in the south half, and at Wah' Kon-Tah Prairie, 135 acres of the Southwest Unit. Stasia and crew have completed fireline preparations for most of the fire units on our list in the Osage Plains.... there are ten in total.
The Ozarks crew completed a burn at Grasshopper Hollow, the 30 acre Prairie Fen unit. This fire seemed to wake up the Ozark fire fairies. With the addition of the Osage Plains TNC crew to the Ozarks location in the first week of March, the combined fire crews were able to burn all four large fire units on the Chilton Creek Preserve as well as complete the Victoria Glade Burn. On Wednesday, March 7, the crew was able to complete interior burn-out of three of the four Chilton units and completed a daily record of over 1500+ acres burned on that day.  Much of the firing was completed using an ATV drip torch along interior fire lanes. This new drip torch has dubbed by the crew as the "fried pickle," after a local restaurant dish that will make you sick if you indulge too much ....  The diesel fuel mixture blown out of the torch has a foul odor that will turn your stomach if you get down wind of the liquid, thus the name relationship. Yes, we need to keep them out of the fumes!  The fuel mixture is being called pickle juice, and a run through an interior firing path is called a pickle run...

Victoria Glade was burned with combined fire crews on March 9, 2007. The crew was a bit unsettled by the presence of cameras and media, but performed very well.  Jim has sent a web link to some of the photos from the Jefferson County journalist who covered the burn and Stasia's crew firing the northwest line.
Crews are currently working on fire lines on Thorny Mountain in the Ozarks and Wah' Kon-Tah Prairie in the Osage Plains.  It is hoped that fire weather will cooperate for more burning in Osage Plains by this weekend, maybe Thorny Mountain later next week, then a combined crew trip to Dunn Ranch if weather is favorable. Dennis and Keith B. are hard at work at Dunn Ranch mowing fire breaks on ten fire units up north. Late snow has made Dunn a very wet and muddy place so far. We are hoping thing dry out in time to let us unleash these crews for more safe burns on the Dunn sites.

Next: View Blane's Next Entry   


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