CARTWRIGHT, OK-People on both sides of Lake Texoma reported seeing huge plumes of smoke north of Grayson county. Lake officials said there's nothing to worry about and this intentional fire could actually help local wildlife down the road.
More than 200 acres were set on fire Tuesday at West Burns Run in Lake Texoma.The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers tell us it's part of brush maintenance which burns off dead vegetation. They said Tuesday's fires are long overdue because it's been more than a decade since the last prescribed burning.
Cecil Hicks saw the smoke all the way from Sherman.
"I thought it was what a lot of farmers do around this time of year. They burn this property up to burn the grass off to get the old growth out and get the new grass in. As I got closer to the lake and figured it was in this area, then I assumed it was the park rangers probably doing the exact same thing," he said.
Connie Ryder of Denison said she was surprised to see smoke and flames as she set up camp at East Burns Run, asking around to find out what was going on.
"I asked people here so are they burning it on purpose? And he said yeah, but I don't know what the purpose is," she said.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers park ranger, Nick Wilson, said they started burning brush at West Burns Run around 9:30 Tuesday morning. Intentionally setting 250 acres of the 506 acre park on fire. Wilson said the burn will get rid of unwanted cedar and enhance the habitat of local wildlife.
"The problems without burning it are basically that no young growth can come up. This area if you looked across before we burned it, there was no green, it was all old dead things. You can see the trees, there are no living trees here," he said.
The Army Corps said it's been ten years since the last time they performed prescribed burning at West Burns Run and they're trying to do this more regularly--every other year
"It'll just green everything up, bring this habitat back and periodic burning of this will open it back up and we can claim this area as a good habitat for animals," Wilson said.
Wilson said they finished the controlled burn at 5:30 Tuesday afternoon and they plan to burn at West Burns Run every two years for a few years, then five years from then on.