Saturday, May 19, 2012

Smokey the Bear

I watched the helicopters fly over the mountains earlier in the day. I knew that foresters in the copters were pulling levers to drop small incendiary devices every 20 feet or so. Each fire smolders, then meets with the others, and then they are all naturally extinguished. 

Observing the fires, I knew people would be concerned that the Forest Service was purposely setting fires in the mountains. ‘Smoky the Bear’ has done his job, but people need to be reeducated about new practices. Series of small fires will clear the underbrush and eliminate the threat of a huge forest fire. 

Saturday Centus

This week Jenny provided the picture and suggested that we use 100 words to address this image. Click on the Saturday Centus button above to visit other responses.

This is fiction. However it is based on a real-life experience I had many years ago. A friend of mine was a forester and he would occasionally be required to sit in a helicopter and drop ping-pong balls that had been injected with a catalyst that would cause them to burst into flame. In order to prevent large forest fires, the forest service would use the ping-pong balls to set numerous small fires in a controlled burn. Sadly, even the controlled burns can get out of control, as evidenced by the North Fork fire in Colorado that burned over 4000 acres. That fire had been extinguished, but a hot spot was fanned into flames by high winds several days after the burn. The Governor declared that there would be no more controlled burning. Sigh. Yes, that might eliminate the chance of another fire of this sort, but when a fire does begin in the future, how much worse will it be?!


  1. I very much identify with the plot of your story. This is the season for Australia's "burn offs" as local bushfire brigades carry out hazard reduction burns in preparation for our end of year summer. A low intensity, controlled fire is always better than an intense, out of control fire.

  2. Informative spin on the prompt. Nicely done.

  3. It's always great to learn something new ... very well done!

  4. Interesting stuff. Thanks for sharing.


  5. We have controlled burns here, as well. People are urged to clear brush and combustibles away from the perimeters of their homes for safety. Controlled burns can easily get out of hand if winds pick up. Good take on the prompt.

  6. what a neat idea for a blog hop thing! I was all caught up in your story and description. Too bad about CO's decision against controlled burns. I fear this year is going to be nasty bad for fires.

  7. We have those control burns here as well, and once we had one down the road from my work, and they never warned us like before...that was a scary few moments.....

  8. We call them prescribed burns down here. On the Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge where Kennedy Space Center is located,they say it is to clear the under brush for security purposes and to rejuvenate the grasses for the wildlife. Even though it is across the river from me, the smoke is extremely acrid and the ashes are so big they burn the paint on cars. Some say they use Napalm in these little balls. Not sure about that, but how unhealthy can that be?~Ames

  9. I think they still do controlled burning here in Arizona but things spiral out of control so very quickly.

    This raised a pretty profound dilemma, doesn't it?

    Burn to save...

    Or save to burn...


    Love your creative use of this picture prompt.


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