Burning away damage left behind by Hurricane Michael

TYNDALL, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - A helicopter flew over Tyndall Air Force Base Friday, not to put out a 600-acre fire, but to ignite it.

Tyndall Air Force Base had a 600-acre prescribed burn Friday afternoon to clear Hurricane Michael debris. (WJHG/WECP)

Dale Pfau, U.S. Air Force East Regional Fire Management Officer, said, "A prescribed fire--there's a lot of planning and effort that goes into putting this together and so the main difference is we get to depict and dictate how the fire burns."

To the average viewers, the flames might have looked concerning but the truth is they're contained. There were firefighters manning the perimeter to make sure the flames stayed within their boundaries.

"We've got a bunch of folks on the ground and fire engines and some UTVs that are just patrolling the lines making sure that the fire stays within the unit that we want it to. If we do get something outside of the unit, we've got folks that can extinguish that pretty quick," said Pfau.

The process starts once a helicopter drops small chemical balls that implode when they hit the ground. Then the sparks begin.

The flames were all to burn away the damage left behind by Hurricane Michael.

Pfau said, "We're using prescribed fire to, again, you know, try to clean up some of the blow-down, reduce the amount of fuels on the base that would be available in the event we do get a wildfire here."

Depending on the results of this burn the remaining debris will be hauled away, remaining vegetation may be burned again, and a new forest will eventually be replanted.

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