UPDATE: Feather River College President reports that the ignitions are completed and favorable wind yielded better air quality today. Mop up began this afternoon and will continue through tomorrow with assistance from the Forest Service.
The Feather River Air Quality District gave the go ahead and a second round of prescribed burning got underway this morning, April 6, at Feather River College. The firing will stop early this afternoon.
According to Feather River College President Kevin Trutna, “Yesterday’s underburn went very well – it cleared much of the large piles of downed and decaying duff on the forest floor.”
This morning Trutna shared some of the questions that he has been asked about this project and how he answered them:
Why now during the week when school is in session, why not wait until the weekend?
Several factors must all align to be given approval for a prescribed burn:
1) Temperature ideally below 65 degrees
2) Winds within allowed limits; weather and wind predictions must be done every hour of the burn. I watched as they went through the weather and wind predictions for each hour of the day yesterday prior to beginning the burn
3) Winds must be from the south, southwest, or east – they cannot blow smoke in to the airport approach path, nor toward the hospital
4) Relative humidity must be within limits. This includes each hour’s predictions during the day of firing
5) Because smoldering will occur for a few days after the fire, the 3-5 day forecast must also be favorable
6) Volunteers must be available: FRC has volunteers from Chico State Environmental Studies, Plumas National Forest, Cal Fire, Quincy Volunteer Fire District, California Conservation Corp, Underburn coalition, and others
7) FRC has required: a hose lay around the burn area, water tender trucks on site both in the parking lot and at the top of the hill, Facilities staff on site
How long will this last?
– Today’s firing operations anticipate approval early morning through about 1 or 2 pm. After that time, there will not be any more active firing operations.
– No prescribed fire is scheduled for tomorrow
– Smoldering of materials will continue for a few days
Will there be another prescribed fire this semester?
– Probably not. The forecast is for warming trend this week, which will raise the relative humidity and combustibility of materials. It looks like the window for prescribed fires in our area is closing. In today’s news, the Mt. Hough Ranger Station had to stop their planned underburn this week and they are switching to other methods of prevention for the remainder of the spring.
– There is a combination of factors outside of the weather: the materials have to be dry enough and still below a certain relative humidity level that allows for full combustion but not escaping sparks.
How long will the parking lot be blocked off against the hill?
– Through Friday to make sure that we protect parked cars.