By the Air Pollution Control District
The Vandenberg SFB Fire Department has been scheduled to conduct a series of small, controlled fires for training purposes in June. The goal of these fires is to train newly assigned firefighters and dozer operators in combating wildland fires. Prescribed, or planned, fires typically burn less intensely than wildfires. Numerous small ignitions of a half-acre to multiple acres will occur on the given approved burn day. These fires will then be suppressed by on-scene firefighters and equipment. Prescribed burns can help prevent the spread of wildfires, and can reduce impacts to watersheds that can result in soil loss and sedimentation.
Watt Training Fires Prescribed Burn: This prescribed training burn will occur near the intersection of Watt Road and 13th Street on North VSFB, with a burn window of June 15-16 and June 20-30. Approximately 5-10 acres of grassland and coastal sage scrub will be burned over a period of multiple days. The total project area size is 100 acres. The burns will begin at 9 a.m. and conclude at 6 p.m. on permissive burn days. Once the optimal burn days have been selected within the burn window for each burn, additional public notification will be provided the day before the burn begins.
Santa Barbara County Air Pollution Control District (APCD) staff have reviewed the Smoke Management Plans for these burns and provided conditions to minimize smoke impacts in Santa Barbara County. The burns will be conducted when the meteorological conditions are highly favorable to direct smoke away from population centers.
These prescribed burns are planned and coordinated by Santa Barbara County APCD, San Luis Obispo County APCD, San Joaquin Valley APCD, Ventura County APCD, and California Air Resources Board to minimize air quality impacts on surrounding communities. The burns depend on weather and air quality conditions that are favorable to smoke dispersion. If the conditions are not as desired, the burns will be rescheduled.
Due to changing winds and weather conditions, it is difficult to predict which areas of the county, if any, may be most affected by smoke from the burns. If you smell smoke, take precautions and use common sense to reduce any harmful health effects by limiting outdoor activities. When you can smell smoke or when it is visible in your area, avoid strenuous outdoor activity and remain indoors as much as possible. These precautions are especially important to children, older adults, and those with heart and lung conditions. If you are sensitive to smoke, consider temporarily relocating and closing all doors and windows on the day of the burn. Symptoms of smoke exposure can include coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, chest tightness or pain, nausea, and unusual fatigue or lightheadedness. Please use caution while driving near prescribed fire operations.
For more information regarding the county’s air quality, visit www.OurAir.org.
To view prescribed burns throughout the state, visit the Prescribed Fire Information Reporting System (PFIRS) website: https://ssl.arb.ca.gov/pfirs/