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Firefighters conducting controlled burns at Indiana Dunes

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This spring flames are rolling through parts of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.

They are no accident, though. They're set intentionally by experienced burn units.

The purpose of these controlled fires is two-fold.

First, these burns are used to maintain the unique habitats at the Indiana Dunes. They also help reduce invasive species.

Second, the fires also help keep surrounding communities safe from wildfire threats. They reduce excessive undergrowth, which can become dangerous fuel for unwanted wildfires.

The most recent prescribed fire took place near the Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk near Ogden Dunes.

You wouldn't know it now, but the area actually used to be a wastewater treatment plant.

The National Park Service is working to keep the area in pristine shape, just as it would have been before man interfered with the landscape.

Controlled burns like this are just one of the ways it does this.

But before lighting the dunes, fire crews painstakingly plan and train.

Weather is a critical part of the equation. There must be ideal temperatures, wind speed & direction and humidity for the perfect execution.

Crews also assess what the smoke is doing. If it stays low and is affecting visibility of major roads like US 12, US 20, I-94, they will change tactics.

The next burns will happen near Dune Acres and Beverly Shores.

People who live in Porter County can sign up to get notifications when the next prescribed fire is happening, at PorterCounty911.org,

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