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Tyndall AFB Holds First Prescribed Burn Since Michael

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A helicopter flies over and ignites a prescribed fire across a 600-acre area of Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, July 19, 2019. The helicopter dropped ping pong ball sized igniters over the entire area to start the prescribed fire. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kevin Tanenbaum)

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A UTV patrols the 600 acre area of prescribed fire set by Air Force Civil Engineer Center Fire Management on Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, July 19, 2019. The prescribed fire was used to clear blowdown left over from Hurricane Michael and reduce the amount of available fuels for potential wildfires. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kevin Tanenbaum)

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Dale Pfau, U.S. Air Force east regional fire management officer, uses a radio to communicate with the helicopter starting the prescribed fire from above at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, July 19, 2019. This is the first prescribed fire since the category five hurricane devastated the 29 thousand acres of forest on Tyndall AFB. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kevin Tanenbaum)

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --

The first prescribed fire since Hurricane Michael took place on area of the base adjacent to Silver Flag training site here, July 19, 2019.

 

Air Force Civil Engineer Center Fire Management set ablaze 600 acres of uninhabited forest ‘blowdown’ that was devastated by the category five hurricane. As the name implies, blowdown is the debris left over in the forested area by the hurricane.

 

Prescribed fires are necessary in order to remove the blowdown from the storm and limit the amount of fuels available for wildfires, according to Dale Pfau, U.S. Air Force east regional fire management officer.

 

Started by a helicopter dropping small igniters into the designated area, the fire is 100 percent contained by members patrolling the area.

 

“With a prescribed fire there’s a lot of planning and effort that goes into putting it together,” said Pfau. “We get to dictate how the fire burns as opposed to it telling us what it wants to do.”

 

As with any fire, a level of danger is present and AFCEC has provided safeguards to keep the fire contained to their specifications.

 

“We have people on the ground, including fire engines and UTVs, patrolling the lines making sure that the fire stays within the unit we want,” said Pfau. “If we do get something outside of that unit, we have people who can extinguish that pretty quickly.”

 

This first of multiple prescribed burns was planned in order to clear leftover blowdown from the category five hurricane.

 

Once the burned remains are removed, the Air Force plans on replanting the area on Tyndall AFB, said Pfau.