"Our (good) weather has gone south," said Gail Youngblood, environmental coordinator for the Army's base-closure office.
In the next few weeks, before autumn rains can soak the dry, rolling Fort Ord backcountry, base officials hope for optimum weather to stage the "prescribed burn."
Using fire at Fort Ord as a brush-clearing tool has been controversial for several years.Critics contend the clouds of smoke pose a health danger, but the Army says it's the safest way to locate unexploded ordnance.
That's a $300,000 undertaking by itself, Youngblood
Those ranges probably have the densest collections of unexploded shells, Youngblood
Low-flying helicopters, spraying a special fuel from torches, will ignite the fire in narrow strips, while other choppers and air tankers carrying water and fire retardant stand by.
After the brush is burned away, it likely will take cleanup workers a year to locate, detonate and dispose of all the unexploded duds on Ranges 43-48, Youngblood
said.The total cost: $15 million.
There are 21 air-monitoring stations set up around the base, and the Army is offering to pay temporary relocation costs for people worried about smoke from the burns.About 75 families have registered for the relocation program.
"A good number of people seem to have some pretty serious health concerns," Youngblood
Once cleared, about 25 acres from Ranges 43-48 could be developed, but most of the land will be managed as habitat reserve.The ranges picked for burning over the next two years were deemed especially dangerous to potential trespassers.The Army expects to complete the ordnance removal work by 2005.
EnlargeSafety Officer Brad Olson points Thursday morning to some of the area that will be burned at the former Fort Ord Army base.Officials are waiting for favorable weather to begin the brush burns of 480 acres.
displays some of the types of unexploded ordnance at the former Fort Ord.
Army officials are waiting for ideal weather to stage controlled burns at Fort Ord
.Officials say notices will be issued a week, three days and a day before the burns.