Text Size
Increase text size
Increase text size
Banner

Photo Gallery

The following photos are each about some aspect of smoke management.  Beyond that they have in common only that they are some of our favorites.  They show interesting techniques that can help manage smoke, some of the factors that directly or indirectly affect what a burn's smoke does, and some particularly good as welll as bad projects.  Each made us think.  We hope they are useful in that way for other people too.  If you have pictures to share here, please let us know.

 

 

Black Mountain Shutdown

Packing up after extinguishing an excessively hot test fire.  Before a prescribed fire begins, a burn boss ensures that all the elements of the prescription are met, all the necessary variables like fuel moisture and the smoke forecast are in an acceptable range, and all the necessary people and equipment are present and ready.  After all these variables are OK, the burn boss and sometimes key subordinates also make and formally document what amounts to an additional gut check.  Finally, they watch a test fire. 

 

Knowing when to cancel a burn before it even really gets underway, and when not to, is among the hardest skills a burn boss perfects over an entire career.  It's among the ones we most admire among the best burn bosses.  Smoke that won't go well despite all the other indicators suggesting it will is one of a good burn boss' gut-check topics.

 

About 15 miles south of Silt at Reservoir Gulch 1200 acres of oak were ignited via helicopter.

About 15 miles south of Silt at Reservoir Gulch, 1200 acres of oak were ignited via helicopter.  Heavier cloud cover and stronger wind than anticipated both contributed to the smoke plume laying over.  Public interest was minimal and particulate concentrations were below the health thresholds at the closest home. 

 

This montage was taken with a special tripod and dozens of photos.  Click to enlarge, or see the original which retains its fine resolution.   Photo courtesy Isaac Pittman, smoke monitor.

 

 Grand River Ranch

 Barely visible from half a mile away and 45 minutes after ignition, this huge pile that covered 0.7 acres was burned during a snowstorm.

 

Yellow Pine Unit Splitter

Behind the lighters is a 20’ strip of cold black, then the previous day’s fire. To split the wide unit despite few breaks in the sage, the last ignition pass on a low-key day earlier in the week was a short strip down the center of the hill. The strip self-extinguished with a little help from its friends. Several days later, it formed a secure edge between two days’ burns. 

 

 Uprooted stumps may not be burned in piles.  Under piles or during broadcast burns, stumps still rooted in the ground can be lit.   Depending on the extent of rot and drying - basically, age - a stump may burn deep into the ground, may burn like a half-gr

Uprooted stumps may not be placed in burn piles. Stumps still rooted in the ground under piles or in broadcast burns do sometimes catch fire. Depending on the extent of rot and drying – basically, age – a stump can burn deep into the ground. Or it may burn like a half-green log and extinguish once moister interior wood is reached. Or it may refuse to sustain fire. Each fate is pictured.

 

Intense urban interface work of Platte Canyon Fire Department's mitigation crew.  Keeping firewood out of these piles and building them small but tight and tall helps the piles burn down cleanly before evening inversions.

Intense urban interface work of Platt Canyon Fire Department's mitigation crew.  Keeping firewood out of these piles and building them small but tight helps the piles burn down cleaning before evening inversions, minimizing smoke impacts.

 

Close-up of logs were piled only about 4' deep when lit.  Rather than burning hot, clean, and quickly, the pile smoldered.  The hole's internal walls are icy because the logs held lingering heat for hours after a snowstorm ended.

Pile construction that promotes vigorous burning is good for smoke management, fire control, and ease of tending.  This picture is a close-up of large logs that were piled only about 4' deep when lit.  Rather than burning hot, cleanly, and quickly, the pile smoldered.  the hole's internal walls are icy because the logs held lingering heat for hours even after a snowstorm ended.

 

 Smoke from an agricultural burn heads for Montrose

Smoke from an agricultural burn heads for Montrose in November half an hour before sunset. Burning at the worst times of day, especially in colder months, causes unnecessary health impacts.

 

 Beautiful woHand pile at Rocky Mountain National Park

 Beautiful work or engineering marvel? Hand pile at Rocky Mountain National Park

 

 Copper Mountain Bellows

 A Copper Mountain Resort crewmember invented this effective contraption. Steel pipe is laid down before the pile is built. A backpack leaf blower will be duct-taped to the pipe's outer end to make a bellows. It is helpful especially when logs must be burned green.

 

 Timber Creek

What do you do with a mess like this?  This burn boss orchestrated a lot of help.   Chips and duff were hauled for composting.   Some piles were rebuilt with the help of a fire crew, bobcat, and backhoe.  For others "we fiber-taped McLeods onto long poles and pulled the smoldering chips and duff piles out into flat sheets about 6 to 10 inches thick rather than waist-high mounds...  In the end it all worked out but it took a lot of effort."

 

Pine Mountain Topography

Afternoon smoke from a burn east of Gateway settled for a couple hours not to the west as strict drainage would predict, but instead east of Unaweep Divide. Sometimes an elevated plume descends in early evening wherever it headed in the day. Another possibility for this location is that high-elevation drainage flow to the east right over the shallow divide plus a strong draw from the Gunnison Valley contributed.

 

Jeff Randall before a prescribed burn at a City of Fort Collins Natural Area.

Managing fire and its smoke is both science and art.  Firefighters check moisture in vegetation components that may burn by making or looking at calculated values.  Some further tune awareness of site moisture by breaking sticks or dragging bare fingers into the dirt.  This is The Nature Conservancy's fire module lead before a prescribed burn at a City of Fort Collins Natural Area.

 

 West Metro Fire Department burns on Ken Caryl homeowner association open space.

West Metro Fire Department burns on Ken Caryl homeowner association open space. This burn helped manage non-native weeds, and provided training for dozens of municipal firefighters. It was done successfully in a very sensitive airshed upwind of Denver.

 

 Colorado Prescribed Fires - Map Showing Number of Smoke Permits by County in 2009

 

 Map of Colorado with number of prescribed fire permits by county in 2011.  As in 2009, the highest numbers are in central and north-central Colorado.

 Darker colors had more permits per county.

 

Blacklining from Main Ignition

Blacklining on a separate day from main ignition makes sense for only some burns. When it does, it can sometimes be an opportunity to make headway on a day when larger-scale burning could create excessive smoke impacts. Photo courtesy Dave Reid, South Metro Fire Department.

 

Spectacular Denver Landscape

Who may care about your smoke?  For a start, people who are everywhere you can see from a high point near the site may.  This burn has downtown Denver in the background.

 

Defensible space creation around an historic cabin at Rocky Mountain National Park.  Once cured these piles will burn with minimal smoke because they are built well:  free of dirt, tall for their footprint, tight slash in the middle to help with quick and

Defensible space creation around an historic cabin at Rocky Mountain National Park. Once cured these piles will burn with minimal smoke because they are built well: free of dirt, tall for their footprint, tight slash in the middle to help with quick and easy ignition, and logs stacked in a way they will tend to fall inward with minimal chunking effort.

 

A cold front approaching from the photo's left deflects smoke from a large wildfire

 A cold front approaching from the photo's left deflects smoke from a large wildfire.

 

 West Metro Fire Department burns on Ken Caryl homeowner association open space.
On the year's shortest day, South Metro Fire Department conducted the first experiment with winter burning in greater Denver below 6400'.  At 6400'-7000' in winter, burning in the metroplitan airshed may occur only on days with no air alert, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., and if all othe permit conditions also are met.  Several burn bosses are working wtih APCD to test the same conditions below 6400', where to date no burning at all is allowed in winter.