What are Firing Operations?

“Firing operations” are among the key tools firefighters use when trying to contain a major fire. To carry out a firing operation, firefighters cut away vegetation to make a line of bare soil ahead of a fire, and then burn the vegetation between that line and the actively burning fire front.

Firing operations are difficult to execute, and even if they work, can cause major harm. In the short video below, we examine some of the technical challenges involved in trying to “fight fire with fire.”

This week, the U.S. Forest Service carried out firing operations aimed at corralling some of the fires within the Six Rivers National Forest Lightning Complex in Northern California.

The latest mapping shows the results of some of these firing operations. On the Mosquito Fire, the firing operations included burning ridges way out ahead of the fire perimeter.

The map below shows a portion of the Mosquito Fire this week. The white line marks the fire perimeter on Sept. 17, and the blue fill is the fire footprint as of Wednesday. The newly burned area has largely been the result of aerial ignitions using helicopters and drones.


For more information about firing operations, check out our coverage of firing operations during the 2021 Dixie Fire.