The first of a series of pile burn in the Figueroa Mountain area is scheduled to take place this week, according to officials from the Los Padres National Forest and Santa Barbara County Air Pollution Control District.

Burns will begin the week of March 11 at 8:30 a.m. and conclude by 5 p.m. on permissive burn days, when weather conditions are right to direct smoke away from populated areas, said Andrew Madsen, Los Padres public affairs officer.

Crews plan to burn 1 to 10 acres of slash from felled dead trees and brush each day. Additional burns are set to occur through the month of March.

Madsen said crews hope to use the one-day controlled burns to reduce the risk and limit the spread of an uncontrolled wildfire should it spark in the area. The prescribed fires typically burn less intensely than vegetation fires and reduce the impact of potential soil loss and sedimentation of local watersheds.

The burning operation is planned and coordinated by the Santa Barbara County, San Luis Obispo County, San Joaquin Valley and Ventura County air pollution control districts and the California Air Resources Board to minimize impacts on area communities.

Mathew Burciaga covers education in Santa Maria and the surrounding area for Lee Central Coast Newspapers. Follow him on Twitter @math_burciaga

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