The U.S. Forest Service will conduct periodic burns in Cleveland National Forest over the next two months, sending up billowing smoke over part of Ortega Highway.
In an effort to eliminate debris that could ignite in wildfires, the forest service will burn about 20 piles of vegetation removed from the grassy forest, as well as 100 acres of fuel-break areas.
Burning of the piles probably will start next week and occur off and on over the next two months, depending on when weather conditions are safest.
Forestry officials need foggy, high-moisture days to ensure the fire doesn't get out of control. They must also follow the advice of regional air-quality officials, who ensure that burns are done on days when smoke can disperse without causing smog problems.
"We are picking days where there is absolutely no possibility of escape" of the fire, said Hal Mortier, a spokesman based in Corona. "Spring is a pretty safe time of year to do the burning."
The piles of dead vegetation--from 15 to 20 of them, each weighing less than a ton--will be burned off Ortega Highway near El Cariso in Riverside County, about six miles past the Orange County line.
When a specific date is chosen for the larger, 100-acre fuel-break burn, the forestry service will warn residents, because it will release much more smoke than the pile burns. The fuel breaks are burned as part of annual maintenance to ensure they are in good shape for the wildfire season.