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Contact: Darlene M. Koontz, (530) 595-4444, ext. 5130
For twenty days interagency fire crews have managed the Fairfield Fire in Lassen Volcanic National Park Wilderness. The fire was initially ignited by a lightning storm that passed over the park and neighboring region on August 2. Final acreage is approximately 1,664 acres and falls within the 1,800 acre planned area established during the initial stages of implementation.
"It had been at least 100 years since fire burned within the existing fire perimeter. Fire crews utilized ignition operations from the ground and helicopter to facilitate containment of the fire within a designated area. These activities were done to mimic natural fire processes," stated Superintendent Darlene M. Koontz. "Additionally, this strategy also minimizes intrusive suppression impacts on wilderness values with the use of existing trails and natural landscape features."
At several locations, strong winds pushed fire across the boundary in the northeast and southeast corners of the planned area. Numerous small spot fires occurred within a 100 acre area within a previous burn in 2004. The 2004 Bluff Fire had reduced the amount of flammable vegetation so that fire behavior was light and easy to contain. Without management of these periodic natural fires, larger, catastrophic crown fires would be inevitable. "Whenever possible we will encourage the return of healthy natural fires to preserve and protect ecosystem processes which contribute to the valuable plant and animal diversity found in Lassen Volcanic National Park," added Superintendent Koontz.
The new National Fire Policy Implementation Strategy allows agencies to manage natural fires for numerous objectives. Fire staff may allow growth on one flank as they suppress growth on another. This new strategy was specifically employed on the Fairfield Fire to protect a historic backcountry ranger cabin located within the fire boundaries.
For more information please contact Kohm Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center at (530) 595-4480 daily from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm, or visit the park website at www.nps.gov/lavo where you can find fire management information through the "management" link.