Prescribed burns take place with dry weather before high winds

Fire crews in southern IL working to prevent wildfires

(KFVS) - The Illinois Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Forest Service carried out prescribed burns at Giant City State Park and Trail of Tears State Forest in southern Illinois on Wednesday, Nov. 16.

In spite of the dry spell that the Heartland is going through, experts said conditions today are better for burning than they will be on Thursday.

The goal of the burn is to clear away certain species of trees and to help oak and hickory trees grow in the Shawnee National Forest. The goal is also to clear away leaf litter so if there is a wildfire, there's less fuel to burn.

But experts said tomorrow the wind is expected to pick up which would make for a dangerous situation because of the dry conditions.

"With the winds coming in that could be a game changer," Scott Christ, a Fire Management Officer with U.S. Forest Service said. "That's a different condition that we've seen than the last month,"

He said tomorrow has the potential to be an active day fighting wildfires.

"So now we have more leaves on the ground, more fine fuels that are dried and churned out and higher winds and more visitors in the woods," Christ said.

He said It's the driest fall southern Illinois has had in six years.

"We're staffed up because of the dry conditions and the potential is there for either large or longer duration fires or multiple fire starts."

Since Oct. 1, Christ said the Shawnee National Forest has had two wildfires.

He said they are extra staffed just in case.

"Tomorrow we get no wildfires we are very happy with that but we are staffing up for the possibility of getting wildfires for tomorrow," Christ said.

Christ said wildfires in the southern states have the forest service shifting a lot of resources that way, but crews from this area aren't going to help because the fire danger is high here too.

Download the KFVS News app: iPhone | Android

Copyright 2016 KFVS. All rights reserved.