Hess Creek Fire Active Fire Behavior Advisory

In preparation for significant fire growth on the #HessCreekFire, one tactic that firefighters anticipate utilizing is “backfiring.” A backfire is a fire set in front of the advancing fire to consume the fuel in the path of the wildfire to change the direction and/or force of the approaching fire front. Firefighters on the Hess Creek Fire have identified certain locations where this tactic may be valuable. Backfires can be set by both ground and aerial ignition operations. Backfires on the ground are set by fire personnel with drip torches or other ignition devices while helicopters typically conduct the aerial ignition operations. Helicopters carry a Plastic Sphere Dispenser (PSD) that releases small ping pong-like balls over a designated area. These ping pong balls or spheres are injected with ethylene glycol before being expelled from the aircraft, landing in the target area, then igniting seconds later.

Both ground and aerial ignition methods allow firefighters to reduce vegetation and create black space in very precise locations in advance of the fire front, slowing the fire’s progression.

Be advised that backfire operations will cause increased smoke and may interfere with travel and recreation plans in the areas surrounding the Hess Creek Fire.

Additional information: inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/6404

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