ambience: Brush Fire
Sometimes it takes a fire to prevent a fire. That’s the idea behind prescribed burns which are intentionally set to remove undergrowth which could one day fuel an uncontrollable blaze. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet.
â€œA drip torch is a mixture of diesel fuel and gasoline. Diesel fuel allows the fire to stay on the ground a little longer and what it does is that it allows us to get the grasses and the fine fuels started and then we allow the wind to carry it across the rest of the field.â€
Gary Cushing is captain of the Fire Department in Sanford, Maine. We’re listening to him and his crew set a prescribed fire in Southeastern Maine’s Kennebunk plains.
â€œIf we had let this whole area just grow wild and never did anything with it as far as management, and you had a really dry fall and you started a fire along the road over here – the main street – with a cigarette or whatever, and the wind was behind it, itâ€™ll burn right straight across this field out into the woods and could burn technically all the way to Sanford somewhere.â€
Many residents of southern Maine still remember the fire of 1947 which burned thousands of acres. Tim Simmons is a Restoration Ecologist with the Massachusetts Natural Heritage and Endangered species program.
â€œPeople understand that they live in an area that they donâ€™t want to see burn the way it did in 1947 when hundreds of thousands of acres and thousands of homes were lost. Even towns have still not recovered from that. We don’t take that lightly at all. We are trying to prevent that from happening again through removing the fuels in these highly fire prone areas. If a place has burned before like it did in 1947, it’s highly likely it’s going to burn again. Rather then deny the fact that fire part of the landscape, we choose to accept that fire is part of the landscape and we have to prepare ourselves ecologically and culturally for returning fire to the landscape in a safe manner.â€
Pulse of the Planet is made possible by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner.