Smoke cloud result of controlled burn
A huge, rolling, white cloud rose over the horizon north and east of Yuma Wednesday morning, causing a rash of telephone calls to The Sun and questions at City Hall by employees.
No, it was not a disaster.
The cloud was from a controlled burn fire at the Imperial National Wildlife Refuge, but the smoke clouds moved down the river to Yuma.
Ken Edwards, manager of the refuge, said the prescribed fires were to have been started Monday and Tuesday, but weather conditions caused the delay.
A U.S. Bureau of Land Management helicopter pilot dropped chemicals from a plastic sphere shooting out flame starters about the size of ping pong balls, a spokesperson said.
The ignition time was 9 a.m. and the fire was intended to burn thick vegetation and non-native salt cedar trees to provide a better environment for the habitat. It was totally controlled and burned more than 616 acres of the non-native vegetation. The fire was out shortly before 5 p.m.
"After the fires, we'll be able to restore native plants and trees for the animals and birds. This will also reduce dangers of fire hazards," Edward said.
Edwards said this controlled burn was a cooperative project among the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Imperial National Wildlife Refuge.
The Wednesday fire was successful and no other will be necessary this week.