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Controlled burn will clear Merlin brush

Weather permitting, some 98 acres of grass and brush will be burned on both sides of Interstate 5 near Merlin late this morning.

The planned burn is part of an effort by U.S. Bureau of Land Management's Medford District to reduce the potential of a catastrophic fire during the summer.

The site is about three miles northeast of Merlin.

Drivers can expect to see firefighters and fire trucks in the area, said district spokesman Jim Whittington.

"We're asking people to be particularly careful if they drive through that area," he said.

Both the BLM district and the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest staffs conduct burns around rural communities each spring to reduce the threat of catastrophic wildfires. Low-intensity prescribed burns remove "ladder fuels" that could otherwise ignite large trees during a summer fire, according to officials.

The agencies work closely with the Oregon Department of Forestry as well as Oregon's Smoke Management Office, which determines when weather conditions are suitable for adequate smoke dispersal.

Daily updated recorded fire information about BLM or Forest Service prescribed burns is available by calling 618-2354 or (800) 267-3126.