Crews Continue to Patrol Willow Piles Prescribed Fire

A fire crew member stands in front of a burned down pile surrounded by snow in a forested setting.

As snow begins to melt and temperatures rise, Carson National Forest fire crews are increasing patrols of the Willow Piles Prescribed Fire near Hopewell Lake. So far, some snow remains on the ground and no heat has been found. 

“The change of weather is an action point in our plan for increasing patrols,” said District Ranger Angie Krall. “We’ll continue patrolling longer than we did before the National Prescribed Fire Learning Review. We will not call this fire out until the snow completely melts off directly around the piles and they have been thoroughly checked.” 

Screenshot of infrared drone footage over the Willow Piles Prescribed Fire.

On Apr. 24, crews used an uncrewed aerial system, often referred to as a drone, to check the piles. 

“We were not able to detect any heat from the prescribed fire,” said Jamie Long, the fire management officer for the West Zone, which covers the Tres Piedras Ranger District where the piles are located. “You can see how the solar radiation varies when viewing areas where snow is melting and where snow is holding, but there is nothing indicating a true heat signature,” he said as he reviewed the drone footage. 

Crews also found no heat using a handheld thermal viewer when they twice patrolled the week of Apr. 17. The most recent patrol was on Tue., May 2. 

Crews ignited the Willow Piles Prescribed Fire in February, accomplishing 380 acres. The piles were created from a commercial timber sale and forest thinning to reduce stand densities, improve wildlife habitat foraging and to facilitate the reintroduction of fire to the landscape. The project is part of the Rio Chama Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Project.

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