Officials Set Controlled Burn At Tinker To Help Prevent Future Wildfires

Friday, March 15th 2019, 5:44 pm
By: Clayton Cummins

Drivers along Interstate 40 saw smoke fill the sky from Tinker Air Force Base in Midwest City Friday morning. Crews from across the nation gathered at Tinker Golf Course to conduct a prescribed burn on six acres of vegetation. 

“It’s a way to reduce fuel load. So, it helps us as far as wildland fire management, and it controls invasive species,” said John Krupovage, Tinker Air Force Base Natural Resources Program Manager. 

Cedar trees are the main target. Not native to the prairie, its presence can be dangerous.

“As they grow, they just get larger and the fuel load builds up,” said Krupovage. “Then if you get into a year, particularly a drought year, you could get into a situation where you have catastrophic wildfires, so we don't want to go there.”

Friday morning’s burn took nearly three years to plan.

Changes in training requirements and weather, prevent the overdue maintenance.

The day began with a test fire before crews tackled the north and south portions.

“We have holders and those are the most important part of this, because we have to hold what we light,” said Blake Stewart, Burn Boss from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

“We'll have UTV’s and brush trucks (type 6 engines) out there, and they’re making sure nothing spots over our line or doesn't start creeping out and take off on us,” Stewart continued.

It takes only seconds to lose control. Officials encourage it be left to professionals.

“Every person out here is a federally qualified red carded crew member, and so we've got to have that in place to make sure we have a safe burn,” said Krupovage.

In about two months, officials say patrons won’t notice where or what was burned.

It took crews nearly two hours to wrap everything up.

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