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Wildland Fire Crews Focus On Prevention

June 19, 2012, 6:06 PM by Derek Olson

Wildland Fire Crews Focus On Prevention

Known for its thick tree stands, many feel the Black Hills are a beautiful place to call home.

"We thought about building in a meadow and then planting trees around the house instead of being in the middle of this.  But we felt that this was okay, here," homeowner Lorraine McCarthy said.

But all those trees can pose a serious fire hazard.  That's why Wildland Fire Suppression is working with homeowners to thin some areas of forest.

"Like you see the little saplings there that catch fire quick.  It heats up the trees above them and we can't touch a crown fire," Wildland Fire Suppression crew foreman Zachariah Richards said.

The work that Wildland Fire has been doing on the McCarthy's land is part of a broader effort to reduce some of the dry fuels in the forest and ultimately help prevent a catastrophic wildfire.

"And it's easier to manage the fire intensity.  We can get in and, basically, get our engines in between the trees we cut," Richards said.

The job is also getting fire crews used to working together.

"It builds camaraderie, so when an intense fire like the one in Colorado happens we can trust each other.  Because we need each other to keep the whole crew safe," Richards said.

But that's not the only benefit that the project is having

"We're thrilled with what they've done.  We love it; we like it open more.  We couldn't picture it that way before," McCarthy said.

Around 100 firefighters from South Dakota are currently battling wildfires in Colorado and Wyoming. 

Regardless, a meeting to discuss how fire crews and homeowners work together is still set for Tuesday night in Boulder Canyon at 7:00 p.m. MT.  There, people can learn more about the 50/50 cost sharing program as well as how they can prepare for wildfires.

For more information, you can call Wildland Fire Suppression at 1-605-393-8011.

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