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An aerial view of the area affected by the April 11 fire, courtesy of pilot Mark Noe.

Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) staff and a dozen AmeriCorps members returned Thursday and Friday, April 17-18, to help landowners impacted from the April 11 fire north of Vinton, clean up the damage.

The damage occurred when a prescribed fire on the Red Fox Wildlife Area in the process of being extinguished jumped to adjoining properties to the east and began burning parts of 160 acres.
The Iowa DNR has contacted the impacted property owners and provided them with the options available to recover their losses.

“We are working to rectify the situation that happened last Friday and in the future by reviewing our burn policy, making adjustments on the landowner contact requirements and emphasizing the importance of the burn policy to our staff,” said Scott Peterson, wildlife district supervisor with the Iowa DNR.

Peterson said the investigation into the fire found that staff had failed to contact adjacent residents and those in the area where the smoke will disperse, which is part of the smoke management procedure.

The DNR uses burning as a management tool to help fend off encroaching woody species and nonnative plants in an effort to promote diverse native grasses and wildflowers. Burning removes the accumulated thatch and reinvigorates native plants by simulating what occurred naturally for centuries.

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