Incident: Red Cedar Reduction Prescribed Fire
Smoke from these prescribed fires may be visible in downtown Sulphur, Davis, Dougherty, Rock Creek, Veterans Lake, Buckhorn areas, Goddard Youth Camp Road, and along Chickasaw Trail but every effort will be made to minimize smoke impacts. Smoke, however, is a natural byproduct of fire and some amounts are unavoidable. Periodic prescribed burns prevent heavy fuel accumulation that would send a larger amount of smoke into the air should an uncontrolled wildfire occur. While smoke will be present in the vicinity during burning, it is generally expected to settle over the Lake of the Arbuckles and disperse overnight.
What are you doing to manage the smoke
Public health and safety are always our priority; however there are always tradeoffs when dealing with smoke. Fire managers try to select days to burn when weather conditions will help move smoke up and away from our neighboring communities. Before each burn, land managers look carefully at what they plan to burn and the proximity of houses, roads, and other smoke sensitive sites to the planned burn area. The burn prescription is then written to mitigate negative impacts of smoke, especially to individuals who may be smoke-sensitive. The project area has been broken up in to small blocks or units to take advantage of a variety of burn windows. The smaller units allow fire managers to stop or slow or increase the pace of ignitions based upon daily weather conditions. Each evening fire managers review forecasts for predicted wind direction and upper level mixing of smoke when determining which unit(s) to burn the following day. All of the firing will be done using hand ignition methods (drip torch or flares) in order to control the amount of fire on the ground at any one time. We work hard to ensure that the public receives notification prior to prescribed burning. If you would like to receive daily updates on which burn unit will be ignited and predicted direction of smoke impacts, please call 580 622-7234 and provide your contact information (phone, fax, or e-mail).
Should I be concerned because I'm seeing smoke
The amount of smoke is not a reliable indicator for being able to manage a fire. Increasing heat and winds and changing fuel types will affect the amount and color of the smoke created. Since increasing heat and wind usually occur in the mid-afternoon, people should expect more smoke to build into a column in the afternoons. Very dark smoke and visible flames often indicate that the fire is burning in heavier fuels - such as dead logs on the forest floor.
Should I be concerned about smoke and my health
Breathing smoke is not healthy for anyone, but some people are at greater risk, including people with heart or lung diseases, such as congestive heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, emphysema or asthma. Children and the elderly also are more susceptible to smoke.
How do I know if I'm being affected
You may have a scratchy throat, cough, irritated sinuses, headaches, runny nose and stinging eyes. Children and people with lung diseases such as asthma may find it difficult to breathe as deeply or vigorously as normally, and they may cough or feel short of breath. People with diseases such as asthma or chronic bronchitis may find their symptoms worsening. Use this Visibility chart (http://www.azdhs.gov/phs/oeh/pdf/smoketable.pdf) to help gauge wildfire smoke levels.
What can I do to protect myself
Many areas report the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Air Quality Index for particulate matter, or PM. PM (tiny particles) is one of the biggest dangers from smoke. As smoke gets worse, that index changes and so do guidelines for protecting yourself. So listen to your local air quality reports.
- Use common sense. If it looks smoky outside, that's probably not a good time to go for a run. And it's probably a good time for your children to remain indoors.
- If you're advised to stay indoors, keep your windows and doors closed. Run your air conditioner, if you have one. Keep the fresh air intake closed and the filter clean.
- Help keep particle levels inside lower by avoiding using anything that burns, such as wood stoves and gas stoves - even candles. And don't smoke. That puts even more pollution in your lungs - and those of the people around you.
- If you have asthma, be vigilant about taking your medicines, as prescribed by your doctor. If you're supposed to measure your peak flows, make sure you do so. Call your doctor if your symptoms worsen.
For more information, please see Living with Fire and Smoke (http://www.nps.gov/fire/wildland-fire/learning-center/fireside-chats/living-with-fire-and-smoke.cfm) or visit http://www.airnow.gov// or www.nifc.gov/smoke.