South Bench prescribed burn

Prescribed fire helps to consume wildfire fuels as shown in this photoModoc National Forest Fire and Fuels personnel took advantage of recent cool weather and mild wind to conduct maintenance prescribed burning on the Doublehead Ranger District. Pine needles that had fallen since the last prescribed burn in the area were cleaned up, along with some of the larger fuels, making for a good smoke column easily seen from State Highway 139 and even further at times.

Ignition of the South Bench maintenance burn began on May 9 and continued until weather conditions became undesirable. In total, crews completed 1,255 acres on the project this year.

“Conditions for this burn were near perfect,” said Burn Boss Don Glenn. “We could not have pulled off the burn without the AmeriCorps crew and our partners at CALFIRE, in addition to regular Forest service personnel.”

Before ignition of a prescribed burn, relative humidity, wind speed and direction, temperature, fine dead fuel moisture and percentage of moisture in live woody fuels are analyzed.

Shows female burn boss talking on the radioOther factors considered are the availability of firefighters and equipment to work 12-hour shifts. Ongoing fires in the region or nation and competition for resources may restrict implementation of a prescribed burn. Engines, dozers and radios have to be operational. The typical burn plan also addresses smoke, signs, safety of the public and firefighters, emergency medical procedures and emergency evacuation methods. Contingency plans are always in place if fire exceeds the boundaries of the units.

Burns are patrolled, sometimes for weeks or months, until declared out.

Resilient landscapes depend in part on treatments such as mechanical thinning, prescribed fire and managing wildfires to achieve multiple objectives. Studies show fuels treatments are effective in reducing both the cost and damage from wildfires in treated areas.

“The forest systems on the Modoc were shaped and maintained by fire for millennia. Fire continues to be an extraordinary tool for restoring form and function to the critical systems that continue to support us,” said Big Valley and Doublehead District Ranger Chris Christofferson. “The Bench Rx is a successful example of returning fire to the land to reduce the likelihood of and damage from a catastrophic wildfire in the future.”    

For additional info contact the West Zone Fuels Officer Don Glenn 530-667-8658. Visit U.S. Forest Service- Modoc National Forest Facebook page at and forest website at for prescribed fire information, announcements and photos.