The day went as planned, as firefighters were able to burn away dense brush and oak, which would only serve as fuel if another fire started on the hillside. All told, they burned between 30 and 50 percent of the brush away, just the amount the Forest Service was counting on. Crews planned on clearing brush from about 175 acres. But the final tally was not in as of press time.
Firefighters used a helicopter with a heli-torch and a 20-person crew using hand-held drip torches to ignite fires in designated areas. In addition, six firefighters with the South Davis Metro Fire Agency were on hand, as were Layton City crews who used the opportunity to train. Farmington Police and the Davis County Sheriff's Depart-ment provided assistance.
Prior to the burn, Forest Service personnel built a firebreak on the west side of the burn area. They used the snow line as a natural firebreak in the upper elevations
Pollock said it is extremely important to clear the old brush out, especially in areas along the Wasatch Front such as above Farmington, where homes are built right up onto the mountain. "We do the prescribed burns to protect those structures," she said.
Davis County dispatch received a number of calls from people who saw the billowing smoke on the hill and some stopped at the command center to see what was going on. Unlike some prescribed burns, Pollock said there were very few complaints about the operation. "Once we explained what was going on, the feedback was very positive," she said. "I guess 2003, with the fires in Farmington and Centerville, is still fresh in their (the public's) minds."
For safety reasons, the Forest Service must look at a number of factors before proceeding with a prescribed burn, including the weather on the day of the burn, wind speed and direction, and such factors as moisture content of the soil and runoff. "On Saturday, all the conditions were perfect to meet our objectives," Pollock said, explaining that they have a smaller window of opportunity in the spring.
The Forest Service will continue working in the area, with crews going in with chainsaws to clear out additional heavy growth.
They hope the brush in the area will eventually develop at different growth rates -- some young growth, some in the middle stage and some older brush, to protect the hillside from flooding.