Brownwood residents could clearly see the smoke filled skies, just south of town, Friday, and can expect more of the same, Saturday and Monday. In all, 1,251 acres will be burned, with the primary goals of habitat restoration and fuels reduction, to lessen the likelihood of an unintentional fire.
The prescribed burns, however, also provide an excellent opportunity for firefighters to train together and gain valuable experience, particularly for urban firefighters who seldom encounter fires in the types of terrain with which they are confronted, here. Friday's burn covered 991 acres, inside the Camp Bowie training area.
On Friday, members of the Lake Brownwood Dam Volunteer Fire Dept. joined the effort, along with a hand crew from the Dallas Fire Dept., local members of the National Guard, and members of the Texas Forest Service. 35 personnel were involved and the equipment included four engines, one tender, two staffed bulldozers, and several UTVs. At least two Dam VFD pumper trucks were used, as well. All of the at Friday's burn were experienced and certified firefighters.
Saturdays burn will be much smaller, covering only 10 acres. It will be primarily for training purposes, which was described as "advanced techniques for using fire to fight a fire," by Public Information Officer, Phillip Truitt, a Wildland Urban Interface Specialist I, with the Texas Forest Service.
"There is a lot of science behind it," Truitt said, "like lighting a fire alongside another, which will create winds that draw them together."
Truitt acknowledged and research of the jobs listings on the Texas A&M Forest Service website confirmed, the TFS is establishing an eleven person wildland firefighting task force, TFS Incident Response program, to be stationed at Camp Bowie. Truitt said the addition is part of the 100 personnel expansion, in the west and northwest areas of the state. The task force will be a valuable resource for the area, especially in light of the current, severe drought conditions.
The Monday training and prescribed burn will encompass an additional 250 acres, with more local agencies attending.