75-100 acres of grassland burned at Westover

Controlled burn prevents spread of wildfires, destroys invasive plants

CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – If you see smoke or flames in the area of Westover Air Reserve Base on Friday, there no need to be alarmed.

MSgt Andrew Biscoe of the 439th Airlift Wing at Westover told 22News that personnel at the base are burning between 75 and 100 acres of land at the base. The areas being targeted as part of this “prescribed burn” are those near the Westover Airpark North, the Hampden County Correctional Center, and the interior of the base.

Up to 100 acres of grassland was burned at Westover

The controlled fires are set in order to cut down on the overgrowth of grass, which can cause wildfires to spread. They are also used to control the spread of invasive plants.

Jack Moriarty, Westover’s chief of environmental engineering told 22News “We like to promote a warm season grass called the blue stem that we have about seventy percent of the acreage for 1,300 acres. We also have the green grass that are are considered cool green grass, we try to minimize.”

The prescribed fires are only set when wind gusts are 20 miles per hour or less, in order to minimize any safety risks. Firefighters also prevent the fire from spreading out of control by wetting the vegetation bordering the areas to be burned.

This is the second time so far this year that prescribed burns have taken place on the base. About 100 acres of grassland were burned on March 30. This past October, about 200 acres of grassland was burned on the base.