Kern County Fire Department does controlled burn in hopes of preventing future wildfires

Posted at 7:00 PM, May 16, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-16 22:00:59-04

The Kern County Fire Department was working to prevent wildfires along Highway 223 Tuesday. 

Fire crews said the area along Hwy 223 is full of receptive fuels and because the brush comes right up to the roadway it makes it extremely flammable. 

“Any sort of spark from a vehicle or maybe a chain dangling from a trailer or anything discarded from the roadway, a motorist passing by throwing something out. All these things can ignite this grass on fire," said Captain Jason Knaggs. 

The fire crews were creating a buffer between the roadway the "disced line" where brush has been removed anywhere between 10-100 feet from the roadway. 

Captain Knaggs said the area is well-known for grass fires, referencing the Deer Fire that broke out along the same stretch of land last year. 

That fire burned more than 1,700 acres before it was fully contained. 

“By burning this area now, we’re reducing that fuel," said Captain Knaggs. 

Fire crews strategically burned portions of the side of the roadway.

While some firefighters burned the dry brush, others were standing watch.  

“Their job is to watch the under burn fuel to where if there’s any sort of ember or spark that starts a fire down there, it’s their job to take action on that," Captain Knaggs said as he pointed out the fire crews in the distance, standing with their backs to the fire. 

Officials are hopeful that their efforts Tuesday will benefit them later on during fire season.  

“Our goal here is to be in control of the fire, not to fight a wildfire later on in the fire season that is running up the mountains. So by doing this today, we’re able to control the rate of spread by going slow," said Captain Knaggs.

Fire crews were expected to be in the area until 7 p.m. Tuesday. 

KCFD said they want to remind mountain residents that the deadline to create a defensible space around their homes is June 1, 2017.