Wildfire means wild blueberries

By: Erika Birnbaum

The first fire of the season for Duluth was a unique prescriptive burn. The site was primarily rock outcroppings rising out of the landscape scattered with wild blueberries. White and jack pines scattered around providing shady snow patches. After getting up to the site and eating a quick lunch, a few Duluth crew members learned how to sling the weather. Using both the manual dry and wet bulb method and a kestrel the first weather report was announced. Not too long after, flames licked the ground.

This was the first fire the area had seen in at least 100 years. While typical fire conditions were not present, meaning the fire had less chance of taking off, it was perfect to keep the fire off the heavy fuels. Between cold temperatures and higher humidity levels coupled with the snow and rocks led to easily controlled flames. Drip torches were the primary ignition method to light it up. While shady areas on the top of the hill held only small flames, dry sunny patches lit up with 4 foot flames.

A few hours later, seventeen acres were burned and it was time to mop up our mess. Shoveling snow and smothering with dirt put out the left over embers successfully. A few dead still standing trees stayed burning, those were left to the experienced hazard sawyers to fell.

Overall Duluth loved the new experience and lessons. Though at the end of the day, all were exhausted from digging line and climbing the rocks. Duluth awaits two weeks with Tower fire staff to better hone their wildfire fighting skills.