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More Sonoma County controlled burns this week

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This week’s string of foggy mornings, calm and moderate days, and cool nights are providing fire officials with a window to conduct a series of controlled burns throughout Sonoma County to clear away unwanted brush while training firefighters, officials said.

On Monday, smoke from two prescribed fires rose above the Sonoma Valley and the Dry Creek Valley end of Lake Sonoma.

The Sonoma Valley Regional Park burn in Glen Ellen wrapped up mid-afternoon. Cal Fire ran that effort, burning some 30 acres of nonnative brush in the fire‑prone area. On Friday, fire officials intentionally set a fire nearby in the Bouverie Preserve, trying to restore ecological balance and reduce fire risk.

“Some of the grass still was a little green, making the fire move more slowly and helping control the effort,” said Cal Fire Battalion Chief Kirk Van Wormer, who supervised Monday’s prescribed burn. “The beautiful thing is our fuels, our grass and brush, aren’t quite ready to burn yet. It’s a great time to do control burns.”

West of Cloverdale, firefighters taught 19 student firefighters how to set a fire and control the flames, working at the face of the Lake Sonoma dam. From morning until about 4 p.m. they burned about 5 acres at a time for a total of 15 acres, said Cal Fire Battalion Chief Marshall Turbeville, who led the lesson.

It offered the Santa Rosa Junior College students a hands‑on training on how to set backfires — a crucial tactic for removing fuel in the path of a fire. The lessons will resume at the dam on Tuesday, Turbeville said.

Cal Fire also plans to burn away 29 acres of brush on Tuesday at Pepperwood Preserve, on Porter Creek Road in the Mark West area hills north of Santa Rosa. That fire is expected to start at 8:30 a.m.

Sonoma County Fire will conduct a series of controlled burns starting Wednesday, weather permitting, at the Charles M. Schulz‑Sonoma County Airport near Windsor. Its firefighters will burn a total of about 20 acres of open space on the airport’s north side over the next seven days.

The area is used as an annual controlled burn location for firefighters, offering a refresher session before the fire season gets fully underway. This year, it will benefit 18 new hires for the county’s newest fire district, said Cyndi Foreman, Sonoma County Fire spokeswoman.

“We have numerous acres to work with out there and new recruits,” Foreman said.

As Monday, Cal Fire officials suspended backyard landscape debris burning for residents in Sonoma, Lake, Napa, Solano, Yolo and Colusa counties. The suspension doesn’t apply to campfires in campgrounds or on private property.

For more information or to obtain a private property campfire permit, go to www.preventwildfireca.org.

You can reach Staff Writer Randi Rossmann at 707‑521-5412 or randi.rossmann@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter@rossmannreport.

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