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Firefighters Starting Prescribed Burns Around McKenzie Bridge, Oakridge

Willamette National Forest

Up to 50 acres around the McKenzie Bridge area will burn this week, but forest officials say it’s both intentional and beneficial. 

Given the devastation of last year’s wildfire season, it’s understandable that the concept of burning things in one of the most affected areas seems counterintuitive.  But prescribed fires are low-intensity burns that cut slash, underbrush, and other potential fuels around homes and communities.

Credit Willamette National Forest / USFS
Firefighters with drip torches set controlled, low-intensity burns outside of McKenzie Bridge.

Joanie Schmidgall is acting public affairs officer for the US Forest Service.

“We know that the smell and the sight of smoke in the air is going to be so triggering for people this year, but in addition to McKenzie River, we are also burning just outside the town of Oakridge to just help mitigate impacts from a large wildfire should one happen again.” 

Pre-colonial Native Americans practiced controlled burns, to limit the fuel a wildfire could consume.

Copyright 2021, KLCC. 

Brian Bull is an assistant professor of journalism at the University of Oregon, and remains a contributor to the KLCC news department. He began working with KLCC in June 2016.   In his 27+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (22 regional),  the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from  the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.
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