Friday, April 23, 2010

Wekiwa Burn #2

Today was much better than yesterday.  I started out a little grumpy, but I found out soon after arriving to work that I would be burning today.  I thought that a day out of the office, on the fire line would do me good... it did.  I was able to make it in to the office and finish up the project that I had to complete by today.  It took less time than expected and I ran home to change into my burn gear.  I have been wearing my burn boots to work everyday to break them in.  I wasn't too confident that they wouldn't cause blisters though.  I strategically placed a double layer of band-aids on my heels and put on an extra pair of socks.  It did the trick, my feet aren't any more sore than they always are after a burn.  I think that I do need to invest in some squishy insoles for my boots though.
The burn zone that we hit today was a nice, quick burn but we did have a lot of mop-up at the end to put out anything still smoldering near the edge of the zone.  One side of the zone was along the road that the park entrance is on.  We had to make sure that we didn't worry visitors or our neighbors with smoke near the edge.  The wind did its job today and all the smoke blew into the zone and through the woods.  We didn't have any trouble with smoke on the road and our coworkers in the park never even smelled smoke.  The only trouble in the road was with people slowing down to watch what we were doing and one turkey caused a little worry... no, not a driver, a real Turkey.  A group of turkeys were being turkeys and scrambling around to decide what to do about the fire coming towards them.  One silly bird flew out into the middle of the road.  It took flight again when a car came along and a man driving a convertible almost got a passenger that he didn't expect.  All of the turkeys made it to safety though, none were roasted.
When we got into position at the beginning of the burn and were waiting for the OK from the test fire location.  I took the time to photograph some of the things around us.  We started out in a rather wet area and there were lots of wildflowers that I hadn't seen before.  This one looks like it belongs in a Dr. Seuss book.

We also saw quite a bit of wildlife today.  Aside from the silly Turkeys, we saw more than a few hawks.  This pair sat on their perch and enjoyed the show for a long time.  Can you see them?  They almost look like a couple of pine cones.

Once we put fire on the ground, someone saw this Pygmy Rattler making a run for it.  I was able to get close enough for a good picture.  It didn't care about much aside from moving away from the heat.  It was exciting!  This was the first time that I have seen a Rattlesnake in the wild, live (I have seen a few dead ones).

It was a calm fire, for the most part.  The side that my team lit was a wet Hammock (an oak filled forest that doesn't burn well).  We had to work to get it to burn.  Once we made it around to another side, we were able to watch the fire carry through a little better.

Later in the morning, when the sun had been out for several hours and things began to dry up a little, two people went back and re-lit some of the areas that didn't burn well this morning.  It was nice to go back and see it afterward.  It was a beautiful sight to see open, nicely burned Hammock.

Thought of the Day #62
Burning at Wekiwa is a little different from burning at some other parks.  Much of the park is right in the public eye.  We have neighbors close to our fence lines and roads that cross through and around the park.  We have to work hard to educate the people around us to make sure that they know we are doing this for a good reason.  If we didn't burn these zones, our neighbors would not enjoy such a lovely view and their homes would be in real danger of incidental fires if we didn't keep the fuel load low.  We also have to burn carefully to make sure that smoke is not bothering people or creating a hazard on the road.  We have to do much more extensive mop-up than I have done at other parks.  Generally, after the fire has burned, most of the burnable fuel is gone.  Things like downed logs and branches can continue to burn or smolder for a long time afterward.  We put out fires that are near the edge of the zone or could flare up later and catch something else on fire.  Here at Wekiwa, when our burn zone is in the public eye, we have to make sure that anything that is smoking within 100 feet of the edge (the length of our fire hose) is fully extinguished.  It takes a lot of work, but it alleviates a lot of worry.


Linda said...

Step away from the snake! (Glad you had your boots)

idyllicchick said...

Question for you: So you didn't know that you were going to be doing a burn before you got to work? How are the burns planned out? Does someone just say, 'Ah, looks like a good day for a burn! Boot up, Ranger Amy!'?

Ranger Amy said...

Thanks for the great question! I will address it in the next Thought of the Day.

Ranger Amy said...

The orange flower above is a Bog Bachelor Button, I had the time to sit down with my flower field guide today. I'm sure that Dr. Seuss would appreciate the alliteration, but he may have made the name flow a little better.