The exercise brought together some 40 forest service and state parks rangers from around the region to burn approximately 250 acres, said Halifax County Assistant Ranger Adam Greene of the forest service.
The controlled, or prescribed burns, aid in burning up undergrowth and forest debris such as pine straw and leaves. This helps to reduce the intensity of future wildfires. “Certain plants, trees and wildlife species need fire in the landscape to thrive such as the longleaf pine, the red cockaded woodpecker and other valuable assets to our ecosystem,” Greene said.
As rangers set fires on the ground using drip torches, a state Forest Service helicopter came to the scene to drop potassium permanganate devices, also called aerial ignition spheres, to help speed the process. The helicopter also dropped water.
County forest Ranger Jim Short said burning existing fuels helps in making future fires less intense.
“It’s a good team exercise,” Greene said.
Short said the burns are particularly good for new rangers. “We’ve got a lot of equipment and a lot of personnel. They can see how fire acts and watch the techniques. They can see how incident command works. It lets new people see how we work in a joint community.”
During the operation, Short said, the helicopter was called away to a fire in Chatham County.
“It was a good joint effort between state resources reducing the fuel load at Medoc Mountain State Park,” Greene said.
Arcola Fire Department assisted with water supply and Halifax County EMS Supervisor Bo Turner stood by for rehab and any treatment of injuries that could have occurred.
Greene said there will be smoke throughout the Medoc area through the rest of the evening and into the morning before rain is expected to set in.