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Preparation Keeps Controlled Burns Under Control

May 5, 2014, 9:55 PM by Jared Ransom

Preparation Keeps Controlled Burns Under Control
TEA, SD -

It can easily be misconstrued for a dangerous situation, but in all reality, the scene of a controlled burn is under intense supervision.

"When we control how much the fires spread by how much we light, how fast we let it get ahead of us," Tea Assistant Fire Chief Steve Oberle said.

Tea fire crews are called out to conduct controlled burns on a regular basis, often getting calls from local farmers needing to clear off some land.

"We were telling the gentleman the other day, a couple weeks after it rains, if it rained tomorrow, within a couple days you're going to see green grass already coming through that burnt stuff. It pretty much beautifies the countryside, I guess you could say," Oberle said.

Sometimes, if a whole building needs to come down, the department would use the structure for some of their training.

"We have time to pre-plan it. We look it over. We look to see how we're going to light it. The day of, we'll figure out what kind of wind speed we're dealing with, where we're going to approach it," Oberle said.

That preparation is key.

Crews do all the can to prevent a situation like what fire crews in Oklahoma are dealing with. What started out as a controlled burn Sunday quickly got out of hand. Over 1,000 people were evacuated near Guthrie. Six homes were destroyed and one life was lost.

For the crews in Tea, controlled burns are nothing to take lightly. They can sometimes take on a life of their own.

"The fire will tend to sometimes create its own wind. So, therefore, it will pull itself along or make the wind greater than what it is and help spread it faster, so it looks like it is getting a little out of control," Oberle said.

Oberle says he and the rest of his crew plan on reviewing the situation in Oklahoma to see if they need to adjust any of their controlled burn procedures.

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