The Out-of-Control Controlled Burn

On May 23, 2014, at 9:09 AM, “Stephen Edgar” <> wrote:
control-fireDear Chief Pozzo:
I need to correct several incorrect representations in your email below.  You are correct the escaped control burn was treated an emergency.  This fire did not escape the originally planned control burn established fire lines.  The  power lines were always planned to be the western boundary of the fire.  The area we are dealing with is a difficult 200 acre muck lake surrounded by 150 acres of young timber in heavy palmetto rough.   The muck is 40 to 80 feet deep and you cannot use any mechanical equipment in it to fight fire.  In 1998 this area burned for 2 months and cut off power to the well field.  This resulted in a huge expense to keep the fire from spreading.  This year for the first time many years we had standing water in the lake and had an opportunity to control burn the uplands surrounding it.  We got favorable weather conditions last Friday (3 days of northerly winds) and I made the decision to proceed with the fire.  In hind site I should have canceled when I was informed that you could not provide brush truck support.
The control burn proceeded as planed Friday but when we finished the base line and  the fire safely backed away from the south line the humidity dropped below the forecast and below my prescription limits.  We tied the first interior line into the swamp as far as possible to plow and stopped control burning any new interior areas and planned to finish the burning the next day.  On Saturday I met with the Forest Services, reviewed the weather forecast and decided  the humidity was still too low and we decided not to burn but to wait for more favorable weather.  The fire lines held until late Tuesday afternoon when fire in the swamp spotted into the unburned uplands to the north of our first burned unit.  This burned hot in the heavy timber and palmetto until it reached the outer fire lines and the freshly control burned areas around the wells where it stopped.  I started the control burn only because these areas were not recently control burned.  The well infrastructure was never in danger due to this previous control burning.
Chief Pozzo, the bottom line is I take full responsibly for the fire.  I am very open to critical assessment, we assess the successes and mistakes on every control burn.  You do not at this point have enough information to make the implied criticism you have made below.  The Forest Service personnel you list below, reviewed my burn plan assessed the weather, complemented me on the previous control burns that prevented a wildfire.  The City cannot afford not to manage it thousands of acres of forest lands by ignoring wild fire.  It will happen, we do not choose if Florida burns, we only can chose when and under what conditions.  I need your department’s full cooperation to accomplish the burning that will keep wildfire from crossing US 1.  You need my assistance to train your personnel and to identify and mitigate the high risk areas of the wild land urban interface that puts the entire City at risk.
I look forward to our meeting.

From: Pozzo, Joe
Sent: Wednesday, May 21, 2014 10:54 AM
To: Stephen Edgar ; Johnson, Linda
Cc: Yarborough, Jason ; Ken Bergman
Subject: RE: Fire Update
This fire according to the on scene incident commander consumed approximately 50 acres on the initial burn.  An additional 50 acres was back-burned to further contain the fire in the early evening.  There were three dozers from forestry along with additional forestry command and support personnel.  The county provided an incident commander, the county wildfire mitigation officer, and fire suppression wild land units.  Port Orange fire provided an incident commander, support personnel and wild land firefighting equipment.  The incident was treated as an emergent  wild land fire, not a controlled burn mop up as it burned near the western power lines with significant radiant heat.  Additionally the fire burned near several well points. Units worked into the late evening doing mop up.  Meals were provided as well to all responders.  Smoke this morning at 0730 was heavy on Pioneer east of SR 415.  The intersection at the cabbage patch was quite heavy with smoke.  I drove though these areas.  I can provide a cost to this incident if anyone is interested.

From: Stephen Edgar []
Sent: Wednesday, May 21, 2014 6:52 AM
To: Johnson, Linda
Cc: Yarborough, Jason; Pozzo, Joe; Ken Bergman
Subject: Re: Fire Update
My control burn escaped control briefly yesterday around 4 pm.  Thanks to PO Fire, F.F.S. and the County we were able to keep it inside the original planned fire lines.  The muck pond is now completely burned around with a good black line in uplands around the 200 acre wetland.  Thanks again to all the people who helped yesterday.  There will be some small areas of smoke today as any green areas inside the lines are cleaned up.
From: Stephen Edgar
Sent: Thursday, May 15, 2014 9:32 PM
To: Linda Johnson
Cc: Jason Yarborough ; Joe Pozzo ; Joe Young
Subject: Re: Possible Control Burn Wednesday Night
We have good control burning conditions developing for Friday and Friday night, depending on how much rain we get after midnight.  If possible I could use Fire department assistance Friday starting at 10 am.  We plan to control burn unit 4.
From: Stephen Edgar
Sent: Wednesday, April 09, 2014 9:38 PM
To: Linda Johnson
Cc: Jason Yarborough ; Joe Pozzo ; Joe Young
Subject: Re: Possible Control Burn Wednesday Night
The control burn was successful.  The County did not get the message that a permit was issued (( I left a message at Stewarts office and on his cell but he is on vacation) I will need to develop a contingency/ second contact for this ).  We had people looking for a wildfire at shift change but this was straitened out.  There is still a large amount of water in Tiger Bay.  My horse was belly deep at all the crossings and we swam a little on one.

From: Stephen Edgar
Sent: Wednesday, April 09, 2014 9:47 AM
To: Linda Johnson
Cc: Jason Yarborough ; Joe Pozzo ; Joe Young
Subject: Re: Possible Control Burn Wednesday Night
The forecasted winds are less than predicted, we will be starting around 2 pm this afternoon if the forecast holds.

From: Stephen Edgar
Sent: Tuesday, April 08, 2014 12:31 PM
To: Linda Johnson
Cc: Jason Yarborough ; Joe Pozzo ; Joe Young
Subject: Possible Control Burn Wednesday Night
The weather is looking favorable for a control burn Wednesday evening starting at 4 pm and lasting until 8 am Thursday morning.  We are planning to burn unit 12 which consists of the western swamp islands and if possible touch up some areas on Slim island (unit 13 north eastern portion)  You will see a lot of weather people getting all excided about wind gusts tomorrow but all that settles down in the evening with a steady north west to north wind.  These islands are not accessible by vehicle and do not have any infrastructure so Joe we will not need the Fire Department on this one.  Our next burn is scheduled to be unit 4 and we will need your assistance on that burn.
Thank you, I will keep you informed.
Steve Edgar
Forester / ISA Certified Arborist
Long Leaf Forest Service
6044 Lake Winona Road
DeLeon Springs, FL 32130


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