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WFFD conducting prescribed burns; hopes to mitigate birds from Kickapoo Airport

Officials say birds pose threat to air safety
Updated: Jun. 17, 2021 at 4:27 PM CDT
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WICHITA FALLS, Texas (KAUZ) - For the past two days in Wichita Falls, plumes of smoke have filled the skies near the Kickapoo Airport, and their fiery origins started with the men who usually put them out.

“We have an issue in this area and other areas in town where there are large birds of prey,” WFFD Deputy Fire Chief Donald Hughes said.

The large birds are called Egrets and for years, they’ve nested in brush near this airport, posing a big threat to the smaller planes coming and going.

Now, the Wichita Falls Fire Department is performing prescribed burns before the birds come to nest in hopes of getting them to find another place to live.

“It relocates the egrets and is a safety measure for the airport and the pilots and the planes coming out of the airport,” Strike Team Leader Jared Burchett said.

And prescribed burns like this really live up to the phrase “killing two birds with one stone”...sort of. It’s multiple birds with one stone.

They help displace those egrets, they allow firefighters to study the fires and how they behave, and of course, doing that allows them to prevent any further damage in future fires.

So, while the burn was prompted by birds, it all goes a long way in saving lives and upholding the ole’ saying.

“Two birds and one stone,” Burchett said. “We’re helping relocate the birds so we don’t have bird strikes on airplanes and we’re also removing the fuels in case there are future wildfires out here.”

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