A Force of Nature

-Eli Hacker

 Holding the line. Photo: Stephen Strack

Holding the line. Photo: Stephen Strack

There are few feelings better than igniting all the way around a large burn unit.

The Johnson Shut-Ins unit is around 800 acres and this month was the first time it had been burned in over three years.

When we rolled up to the pre-burn meeting we were met with a crowd of people; DNR had enlisted over 25 people to assist on this unit, not only because of its size but also because of its proximity to a major roadway and the volatility of the fuels. Because it had been so long since this unit had seen any fire the fuels were nice and dry and ready to go up at any moment. Igniting around the whole JSI unit took three hours but it burnt far longer than that.

 Lighting. Photo: Stephen Strack

Lighting. Photo: Stephen Strack

The next morning we could see a huge plume of smoke rising over the unit. The slow, creeping fire we had started at the line had tumbled into a huge, roaring flame front that decimated the center of the unit. During our mop up walk around the unit we could see some smoldering logs more towards the center of the unit.

It's interesting how small things can build up momentum and become a real force of nature.

 Photo: Stephen Strack.

Photo: Stephen Strack.