Back in late October you may have caught a glimpse of lingering smoke in the Stemilt Basin. The cloudlike haze was visible from town and hung around for about 3 days drifting in timber and light winds. Much larger than an orchard burn, but calmer than a wildfire. If you took notice, you witnessed a rare event.
Chelan County Natural Resource Department partnered with CCFD#1 and WADNR to conduct a 40 acre prescribed fire in a stand of timber that had been previously thinned. The burn helped clean out slash and forest litter (dead branches and pine needles) in a controlled fashion so that future wildfires would behave less severe. Prescribed fire offers great training and strategic benefit for our staff, as well as numerous ecological advantages for our forests.
So why is this so rare? Liability, expertise, staffing, and of course the weather all play a role. Through cooperation and partnership the District is hopeful to overcome some of these barriers and put fire to work more frequently than a blue moon.
North40 Productions was kind enough to tag along and film a few minutes of the day. Check out their short video below to see your local fire staff working together to help put up some of the "good smoke."