KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A prescribed burn along the edge of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Wears Valley is being called a success.
Park officials and the Appalachian-Piedmont-Coastal Zone fire management staff successfully completed a 175-acre burn on March 9 to reduce the amount of flammable brush in the area and maintain an open woodland habitat.
“The wildland fire specialists did an outstanding job planning, prepping, and executing this prescribed burn in an ongoing effort to help communities along our boundary create Firewise space between their homes and parklands,” Chief Ranger Lisa Hendy said. “The success of this burn was not just the protection of structures and the furtherance of the ecosystem, but also the strengthening of relationships within our partner firefighting agencies, which fortifies the foundation from which we all strive as a team to protect our communities.”
Crews established a 3,000-foot hose lay for added protection around homes at the top of the ridge and along the boundary before implementing the prescribed burn. A small test burn was conducted to confirm fire behavior before the prescribed fire was allowed to burn slowly down the slope towards Metcalf Bottoms Picnic Area.
As expected, smoke was visible throughout the operations across the Wears Valley area. Flame lengths and fire behavior were within prescription throughout the operations as the low-intensity fire backed down the slope during a 6-hour period until the burn reached control lines. Crews remained on scene overnight and continued to staff the area for several days to monitor fire activity.
Crews from Cherokee National Forest, Bureau of Indian Affairs in Cherokee, Townsend Volunteer Fire Department, Pittman Center Volunteer Fire Department, Waldens Creek Volunteer Fire Department, The Nature Conservancy, AmeriCorp, and employees from Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Congaree National Park, and Chickamauga-Chattanooga National Military Park provided assistance throughout the burn operations including site preparation and post-burn monitoring.