JAMESTOWN, R.I. (WPRI) — The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) conducted a controlled burn Tuesday on a small island off the coast.
Dutch Island is located in the western area of Narragansett Bay and is part of the town Jamestown.
The prescribed fire on the island took six months to plan but only one day to burn.
12 News Meteorologist T.J. Del Santo and Sky Drone 12 were there as the fires were started.
“Today we are trying to implement a prescribed fire that has been meticulously planned by our fish and wildlife staff as well as our contractor services,” said Olney Knight, the DEM’s Forest Fire Program coordinator.
Using a combination of diesel and gasoline, firefighters followed the island’s trails to light the fires.
The crews started on the south side of the island and moved northward.
“It’s a habitat improvement project. On this island, there’s a lot of invasive plants, invasive shrubs and understory that we’re trying to get control of and understory for the wildlife out here,” habitat biologist John Veale explained.
Weather played a big role in the planning of the burn. A dry day with northeast winds made for an ideal setup.
“We have perfect conditions,” Veale added. “We have low humidity, kind of breezy conditions, but also cooler temperatures which should really help that fire progress.”
The fire did just that as it spread through the dry grass and brush while Veale monitored the conditions.
Another benefit to conducting the controlled burn was that firefighters had a chance to train under real conditions and circumstances.
“You don’t get any better fire training than hands on live fire operations,” Knight said.
One of the main concerns with the fires was a risk to the public, particularly with the smoke. Due to the winds in both the vertical and horizontal directions, the smoke was able to disperse and caused minimal impacts along the shoreline.
Along with minimal impacts onshore, the DEM says they took several precautions to ensure that no wildlife on Dutch Island were harmed.
DEM adds that although all of the burning was completed today, additional clearing of the land may take place in the coming days.