WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) - Smoked filled the air Friday afternoon as several acres of land at the Celery Bog were set on fire.
It was a scary scene, but it was for an environmentally friendly and beneficial purpose.
"Over the years, a lot of the old plant materials burn and fall to the ground and by doing a prescribed burn, we burn off the layer down there on the ground," said West Lafayette Parks and Recreation Manager Dan Dunten. "It opens up the area, which allows more wildflowers to grow in the spring."
The fire stays under control with on-site firefighters monitoring the nearby woods and edges of the field.
Firefighters torch the field with a drip torch caring a mixture of gasoline and diesel. It's not just tossing a match and hoping for the best.
"We try to work with mother nature," said West Lafayette Deputy Fire Chief Tony Schutter. "We start down-wind and work against the wind, so it doesn't get out of control. If we were to start on the other end, this thing would just take off and go like crazy."
Firefighters said the apartment buildings near the bog aren't in danger. In fact, they said a lot of planning goes into setting these fires.
Firefighters said they have to look at wind speed and direction, which have to be just right so people stay safe.
"We picked today to burn, because the winds are coming from the south-southwest, and that carries the smoke away from University Place," said Dunten. "We want to be good neighbors of course and don't want the smoke to be bothering anybody."
According to Dunten, the burned and blackened land will only take a few weeks to grow green.
As for the little critters in the field? Schutter said they've gone through this a time or two.
"They'll move," said Schutter. "It's mother nature. It's in their instincts."
Schutter said the land is strategically burned; one plot of land every two or three years. That way, he said the animals always have place to run home to.
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