Winter is controlled burn season

BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - A helicopter flew through smoke over Pine Log State Forest Tuesday afternoon. Instead of fighting the fires, it was started them.

Tuesday a controlled burn was conducted in Pine Log State Forest. (WJHG/WECP)

"We are able to use a helicopter on this one and they drop little balls down that ignite the fire, and it's able, by doing that we're able to control the fire better, its a slow burner," Steve Weherley, of Florida Forest Service, said.

The Florida Forest Service burns state forests every year to prevent future wildfires. It also helps plants grow.

But with a burn of this magnitude, it can serve another purpose.

"We are also using it as a training exercise, so we have different agencies out here assisting us with this. From Panama City Beach, Bay County Fire, and FWC," Weherley said.

While it may look ominous from afar, every precaution is taken to make sure those conducting the burn, and those traveling by, stay safe.

"We planned for the weather conditions that we have today, so it would not affect the airport or Highway 79, and I think we have been pretty successful in that," Wayne Rushing, of the Florida Forest Service said.

A successful burn after waiting for months.

"This has been scheduled since November, this particular burn, and we are finally getting the weather in January. So, it is a long thought out process that all weather conditions has to play a part," Rushing said.

In the winter, expect to see more controlled burns as the weather is usually more favorable for them.

Another prescribed burn is being held Wednesday at the Conservation Park in Panama City Beach.

You can also keep up with controlled burns by visiting the Florida Forest Service's website.

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