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August 4, 1997

Firefighters carry out successful controlled burn

Sparking the fire

Firefighters from UC Santa Cruz, the California Department of Forestry (CDF), and other local crews set fire to nearly 55 acres of campus meadowland in late July. Sunny weather, a light breeze, and low humidity helped the fire along. UCSC Fire Chief Chuck Hernandez called the controlled burn "very successful."

The burn took place in the Twin Gates area four miles up Empire Grade from the campus's main entrance, encompassing Marshall Field on the east and west sides of the road.

UCSC planned the exercise to help reduce the risk of wildland fire and combat invasive plants that had spread into the meadow areas. Controlled burning is one of the most effective ways to eliminate invasive plants, which aren't adapted to seasonal wildfires. Native plants such as purple needlegrass and California buttercup are adapted to these seasonal fires and can actually be given a boost by controlled burns such as this one.

The burn also provided local fire crews with an opportunity to practice fighting a wildland fire.

Approximately 65 firefighters took part in the exercise. Fire crews from UCSC, CDF, and the Calfornia Youth Authority and city fire departments from Santa Cruz, Bonny Doon, Scotts Valley, and Ben Lomond all participated.

For several Scotts Valley firefighters, the controlled burn was their first real-life fire training.

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