Peninsula News

Peninsula fire crews fight fire with fire in Palo Alto

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Firefighters on the Peninsula fought fire with fire Thursday, lighting two controlled burns in Palo Alto's Enid W. Pearson Arastradero Preserve. It was an all-day operation that blackened 18 acres of hillside.

Firefighters say they could not have picked a better day. Things got intense at times, but the fire was under control from the very beginning. Crews began setting the fires in the morning and before they started, they took every possible measurement to make sure the controlled burn didn't get out of hand.

"We were very, very careful about watching the weather, watching the fuel moisture, watching the relative humidity in the air, winds, all of that plays a factor," said Dep. Chief Catherine Capriles.

Even throughout the day, crews continually monitored the weather before setting additional fires. It was the first prescribed burn in Palo Alto in 30 years. Park rangers say it's important to re-establish fire into the ecosystem and get rid of many non-native invasive species.

"It also removes excess amount of fuels, ladder fuels that can burn up into the trees. So, it makes for a better ecology, fertilizes the ground," explained Lester Hendrie with Palo Alto Open Space.

The other major objective is protecting life and property. The preserve is surrounded by homes and had firefighters not removed much of the fuel they did Thursday, the potential for a devastating fire would have been much greater.

"If it was a very hot, dry, volatile day or a windy day, a fire that started in this area could burn out to the perimeter and possibly jump the preserve lines into residential areas," Hendrie said.

Crews planned to be in the area overnight Thursday to make sure any possible hot spots did not flare up. ,/p>

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palo alto, fire, fire safety, wildfire, peninsula news, lilian kim
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