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Forest Burn Targeted For ‘Nuclear Winter’ Study

April 2, 1986

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Defense officials seeking to learn possible effects of a postwar ″nuclear winter″ plan to study a 1,200-acre controlled fire in the Angeles National Forest scheduled later this year.

The timing of the ″prescribed burn″ will be determined by weather, most likely in late September or early October although it could come as early as next month or June, U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman Susan Marzec said Tuesday.

The fire would be started in the San Dimas Experimental Forest, primarily to enable the Forest Service to study effects of smoke on the soil and in the air, Ms. Marzec said, adding that such burns aren’t unusual in the primarily brush- or chapparal-covered Angeles National Forest.

For example, she said, a prescribed burn of 700 acres was conducted Tuesday to destroy forest undergrowth that could fuel a wildfire.

But in the case of the 1,200-acre blaze, she said, a number of other agencies including the U.S. Department of Defense will conduct tests.

Defense officials plan to fly over such blazes around the country in instrument-carrying aircraft to investigate ″fire flume dynamics″ and smoke chemistry, Defense Nuclear Agency director Lt. General John L. Pickitt told a congressional subcommittee in February.

The data will be analyzed as part of the department’s Global Effects Programs, which examines the biological consequences of nuclear war, Defense Department spokeswoman Sue Ladd told the Los Angeles Herald Examiner on Tuesday.

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