Controlled Burn Operation Battles Wildfire Risk in Northern Marin as Big Rock Ridge, Novato, and San Rafael Brace for Smoke

Controlled Burn Operation Battles Wildfire Risk in Northern Marin as Big Rock Ridge, Novato, and San Rafael Brace for SmokeSource: Marin County Fire Department
Eileen Vargas
Published on October 03, 2023

In the midst of wildfire season, multiple agencies are coordinating a controlled burn operation in the Big Rock Ridge area of Northern Marin. This operation, spanning from today to October 5, is a proactive step towards lowering the wildfire risk posed to nearby communities. Information about this preventive measure was shared by the City of Mill Valley via a Marin County Fire Department news release.

Spanning across 200 acres of private land, known as H Ranch, smoke from the operation will be visible in Novato and San Rafael areas, as well as Lucas Valley, Marinwood, Terra Linda, and Santa Venetia. Marin County Fire Chief Jason Weber is encouraging community members not to call 911 if they witness smoke during this period, allowing resources to focus on active emergencies.

Chief Weber discussed the darker and heavier smoke, noting that the large volume of dry vegetation is responsible. Conditions across the state have led to an increase in dead vegetation, raising the risk of wildfires. Conducting controlled burns helps to improve forest health, bolster wildlife habitat, and limit potential damage from future wildfires to surrounding communities.

Several entities are backing this operation, including the Marin County Fire Department, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE), and the Novato Fire Protection District. These partners see the project as a means to manage fuel load and prepare new firefighters. Battalion Chief Graham Groneman stressed the importance of this venture, citing its role in mitigating community impact and readying personnel for future wildfire incidents.

Typically, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District authorizes controlled burns. The decision to carry out these operations considers weather forecasts and available resources while ensuring minimal impact on the environment and local communities.

Traffic in the region may experience disruptions due to the operation's fire vehicles. A variety of resources, including fire engines, heavy equipment, and a helicopter, will be on site to maintain control. Weather conditions will also be constantly monitored to ensure smoke dispersal aligns with environmental safety analysis.

As concerns for environmental preservation and wildfire control increase, it becomes crucial for communities worldwide to understand the importance of preventive measures like controlled burn operations. Marin County Fire Chief Jason Weber urges community members to do their part in support of these efforts.