CALAVERAS COUNTY, Calif. (KTXL) — Multiple agencies participated in a prescribed burn in Valley Springs near the New Hogan Reservoir recreation area. 

“Fire is not always a bad thing,” Battalion Chief John Fredrick said. “It’s to reduce fuels, bring the fire back to its natural landscape in California and to protect structures in and around the communities.”

Fredrick with Cal Fire Tuolumne-Calaveras unit said prescribed burns are a faster and more cost-effective way to help fight wildfires. 

“It’s just going to remove that fuel, bring down the fire intensity. It may not stop a fire per se, exactly. But a lot of times that slows it down and brings intensity down that way our ground crews can get in there and you know, safely fight the fire and put it out,” Fredrick said.

A crew of two dozen firefighters from multiple agencies used drip torches to set fire to about 12 acres along the New Hogan Reservoir shoreline. 

“The more fuel that we can remove during either the winter and the spring or the fall months, the less likely obviously a fire is going to move through that area,” Fredrick said.

Prescribed burns have multiple benefits, including training. About half of the firefighters participating in the prescribed burns are new to the job.

“Great training for these guys, learn how to use fire to fight fire. They do some extinguishing training out here as well, so they try to fight the fire. And it’s just a great training opportunity as well for new people,” Fredrick said.

Cal Fire TCU is gearing up and being proactive for what they say could be an active fire season. 

“We’ve stepped up our augmentation this year with additional crews and fire engines so we’re trying to get the process and the training done earlier this year,” Fredrik said. “Usually we’re in you know mid-June sometimes before we’re at peak level of our staffing, but we’ll be at peak real shortly.”

Fredrick said areas left untreated are at higher risk of becoming fuel for wildfires, so they’re actively working with neighboring agencies to do more prescribed burns as prevention. 

“We’re trying to get the public to know that the prescribed fires are a good, good thing. When they’re done correctly,” Fredrick said.

Cal Fire TCU said they have more prescribed burns planned in the coming weeks.