PUTNAM COUNTY-
 
 
Today a prescribed fire at Etoniah Creek State Forest in Putnam County burned more than 300 acres.
 The last time there was a prescribed burn at that location was back on January, 2006.
 That burn was only 189 acres.
 Today's fire set the record for the largest prescribed burn at the Etoniah Creek State Forest.
 
The prescribed fire burned a total of 344 acres, but the fire was prescribed and planned.

"The effects of prescribed burning will mitigate the potential for damaging wildfire. There are other benefits in addition to improving wildlife habitat, aesthetics,it reduces the incidents of pests and diseases," said Scott Crosby who is the Forestry Supervisor at Etoniah Creek State Forest.

 

The purpose of this prescribed burn is to reduce hazardous fuel by at least 60 to 80 percent.  That includes palmettos and dead vegetation.
Men and women from all over the country gathered to work on this burn.
Some attend the National Prescribed Fire Training in Tallahassee and this is how they get their field training.

"Some people have never seen fires in these conditions and some people don't get an opportunity to burn as many days a year as they do here in the southeast," said Jennifer Rabuck.

On the burn day, everyone joins a briefing meeting to go over the plan for the day.
Then out to the forest they go.

Before every prescribed burn, a test fire is mandatory. The reasons are to see how the fire behaves, where the smoke is going and if it's safe to proceed.

"If something really strange happens and the test fire doesn't behave like we think it should then we won't do it or we may wait a while to see if the weather changes," said Crosby.

In this case,nothing went wrong, so the burning begins.

"We establish a baseline and generally we start with backing fire, which means it's a fire burning against the wind. It's slow moving and doesn't have a lot of heat build up," said Crosby.

 

Crosby said there are many factors that come into play during a prescribed  burn, including the weather, notifying neighbors and preparing the equipment.
At the end all the work and time is worth it because prescribed burns are a critical part of managing a florida forest.