Florida Keys prepare for controlled burn

Aug. 8, 2012 at 2:26 PM
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KEY WEST, Fla., Aug. 8 (UPI) -- The first "controlled burn" in the Florida Keys since a Sept.15 attempt turned into a raging wildfire was scheduled Thursday, authorities said.

The intentional ignition of a narrow, 10-acre tract of the National Key Deer Refuge on Big Pine Key, to clear out underbrush and ease plant growth unique to the area, comes after a 10-acre burn last year grew to a 100-acre fire, known as the Blue Hole Fire. The fore forced a five-hour evacuation of nearby residents, Keysnet, a Florida news service, reported Wednesday.

"We've been testing the protocols learned here last year, and things have gone perfectly. We look forward to a good burn here," said fire-management specialist Dana Cohen of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

"I definitely feel better about this burn," added Monroe County, Fla., Fire Chief, James Callahan said. "Fish and Wildlife has prepared more, and we have prepared more. There will be more people assigned at the burn to make sure there is no threat to life or property."

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