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    The Atlanta Incident: The Burns

    Atlanta-2.jpgOn February 28th 2007 the Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge (map) and Oconee National Forest burned a combined acreage of 3,104 acres approximately 50 miles southeast of Atlanta. The burns were conducted to reduce hazardous fuel accumulation and improve habitat for the Red Cockaded Woodpecker, a federally listed endangered bird. Both burns had been granted permits by the State Forestry Commission.

    Weather and air quality parameters were within prescription. In the case of the Piedmont Refuge pre-burn fuels had been estimated using a combination of Photo-series guides and expert estimation. This information was incorporated into smoke dispersion models using the Fire Emission Production Simulator (FEPS) and VSmoke. This method predicted PM 2.5 levels to be under 34 μg/m3 less than 24 miles away from the burn site. Aerial ignition began at 11:30 am and ended at 1:30 pm. With the exception of some smoldering stumps and logs, the fire was out by 3:00 pm. The Oconee N.F. burn also took place within prescription, during roughly the same period of time.

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