Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Field Notes Entry   
Birthday Fire at Balcones
Southwest Region, March 14, 2006
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Success Story

Birthday Fire Successfully Suppressed

Due to Rx Burn Maintenance Program

on Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge



On March 14, 2006, the Birthday Fire started alongside FM Road 1869 in the vicinity of the community of Hopewell.  Possibly started by a cigarette, a northeast wind pushed the fire quickly through one foot tall grass and grew to 22 acres within 30 minutes.  According to Carl Schwope, Fire Management Officer for Balcones NWR, the reason they were able to stop the fire at 22 acres was due to the fact the Refuge has an active prescribed burn maintenance plan.  The Birthday Fire reached one of the areas where understory fuel loading has been reduced under the Refuge‚Äôs maintenance burn plan.  This specific area has been maintained with a prescribed burn every 3-4 years over the last ten years.  The prescribed burns took place under set conditions during cooler times of the year.  So when the Birthday Fire took off under extreme burning conditions, it was easier to suppress with the lighter ground fuels.


Suppression of the burn was an interagency affair with response by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Fire Chiefs from Burnett and Williamson County.  Local law enforcement blocked the road for firefighter and public safety.  Wesley Evans, USF&WS, was the Agency representative and acted as liaison between the Refuge and the other agencies involved.


The fire was named as such because it was the FWS Incident Commander's birthday.

Contact Info: Martin Valdez, 505-248-6599, martin_valdez@fws.gov
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