Volunteers, fire departments work 1300 acre controlled burn in Murray County

Published: Jul. 23, 2019 at 6:44 PM CDT
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Smoke filled the sky at the Arbuckle Mountains in southern Murray County on Tuesday, all with the purpose of prevention and protection.

The Arbuckle Rangeland Restoration Association, an organization specializing in controlled burns, oversaw a 1300 acre burn at the Edgerock Ranch, north of Springer and west of I-35.

Seth Coffey said his family owns the 11,000 acre ranch and is also the president of the ARRA.

"We're overseeing the burn and just guiding people, making sure that everybody is where they're supposed to be when they need to be there," Coffey said.

Coffey said 15 members from the ARRA helped, along with the Smokey Valley Volunteer fire department.

One of the goals of the fire is to battle the spread of Eastern Red Cedars, which become a volatile fuel for wildfires and can consume up to 10 gallons of water per foot a day, year round.

"We're hoping to hit back at that cedar problem that we've got in hopes that there will be more water in the aquifer for everyone and more grass to graze for our cattle," Coffey said.

Another goal is to rob the area of excess fuel for wildfires and give firefighters a safe area to battle fires, in case of drought.

"So there's a nice spot of black up here in the mountains. If something does break out off the interstate, all these fire departments know that they can come here. They can anchor and it will be a safe spot."

The weather conditions play a large role in determining whether to start a controlled burn.

Coffey said the 15 MPH winds from the north and humidity being more than 40 percent was the reason the organization picked Tuesday to do the burn.

Coffey said the ARRA works to serve landowners providing manpower, equipment or experience to those who need a controlled burn.

"That's what we're here for," Coffey said. "We're here to help people help themselves."

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