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Prescribed burns taking place in Big Cypress preserve

Posted at 10:16 PM, Feb 08, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-09 09:54:38-05

You may have noticed a giant plume of smoke, even ashes falling in your neighborhood. Crews are burning thousands of acres in Big Cypress National Preserve.

"Weather determines where we burn," said National Park Service Firefighter Byron Hart.

"We're very close to Interstate 75 and that's a big smoke management concern.  We pick a wind direction where smoke will not impact 75."

A prescribed burn clears out underbrush that could fuel wildfires.  Crews work in quadrants, using a special mixture of diesel fuel.

"This is a drip torch, it's a pot with a little spout on it, with a wick that will light," said Hart.

Although the controlled burns help reduce the severity of a real fire, it doesn't guarantee there won't be any fires.  Since Hurricane Irma, Big Cypress has been drying out.

"It's definitely drying out, on this road a month ago you would see water, now you see very little water," said Hart.

Crews are trying to burn 90,000 acres in the preserve before fire season begins at the end of March.