News Short: Santa Clara debris burn fills sky with smoke

Santa Clara fire crews attending a controlled burn north of the Laub Pond Dike, Santa Clara, Utah, March 2, 2016 | Photo by Julie Applegate, St. George News

SANTA CLARA – A controlled burn near Snow Canyon High School is drawing onlookers and periodically sending up large clouds of black smoke as crews burn debris from behind the Laub Pond Dike retention basin.

Santa Clara Fire crews are doing an annual burn of seasonal grasses and cattails to keep the basin behind the dike from filling with silt and clogging drainage pipes in the structure.

“We do it every year,” Santa Clara Fire Chief Dan Nelson said. “If it gets clogged, it won’t release this water and it will back up and flood.”

Firefighters used flare pistols and drip torches to light sections on fire, burning the seasonal growth while trying to leave the natural vegetation. The area has natural firebreaks on both sides of the wash, Nelson said. The annual burn is just part of the management of the retention basin.

Years ago, the wash was filled with tamarisks, Nelson said, but they have been removed. Now there are cattails and grasses growing in the area.

“It’ll green up real nice and there will be a lot of little animals move in,” Nelson said.

Firefighters will continue burning seasonal vegetation north up the wash, past Little League Drive through the Santa Clara Arboretum. Work will likely happen within the next couple of days, depending on weather conditions and available manpower, Nelson said.

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