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If you see smoke northwest of Poncha Springs on Thursday and Friday, Jan. 14 and 15, it’s likely the Mt. Shavano pile burn conducted by the Bureau of Land Management (weather and wind conditions permitting).

BLM’s Rocky Mountain District Fire crews will be burning 500 piles seven miles west of Salida in a 138-acre space. If conditions are favorable, they plan to begin the project Thursday and continue Friday.

This week’s burn is among nine planned in the area throughout the fall and winter in an effort to remove slash left behind from timber harvests and previous fuels treatments, which remove beetle-killed timber and other fuels, reducing the risk of future catastrophic wildfires. They also help create various stages of plant succession, which is critical to the health of fire-adapted ecosystems.

Right now there is about a foot of snow in the burn area. Wind is expected Thursday, which should help disperse the smoke. With colder evening temperatures, smoke may accumulate in lower areas.

Smoke will likely be visible from Highways 285 and 50, and Salida. Crews will be on hand at the site to monitor the piles.

For more information on this or other prescribed burns on BLM Royal Gorge Field Office lands, visit Inciweb at or the BLM Colorado Fire Facebook page, @BLMColoradoFire.