County of Marin - News Releases - Controlled Burns

For Immediate Release
June 21, 2022

Controlled Burns Scheduled for Novato

Seasonal firefighter training and fuel reduction effort to start June 22

San Rafael, CA – Several controlled burns are scheduled for June 22-24 in Novato as part of a seasonal firefighter training and wildfire fuel reduction effort, and residents may see or smell smoke.

Firefighter trainees get a briefing about a controlled burn by a battalion chief while standing on a ridgetop overlooking a Marin County neighborhood.The controlled burns in Novato will serve as a training session for new firefighters and a wildfire fuel reduction effort.

The training site sits just below Big Rock Ridge, which separates Novato from Lucas Valley. It is part of a privately owned H-Ranch except for a small section of the Indian Tree Open Space Preserve, which is managed by Marin County Parks. The prescribed burns June 22-24 will be in the westernmost areas of the ranch, just south of the residences off Vineyard Road. Smoke will be prevalent from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on burn days.

Advance outreach on controlled burns is an important way to limit emergency calls from concerned residents. Novato residents are urged to refrain from calling 911 if they see smoke from the burn area. 

All the burning will be conducted in accordance with the Bay Area Air Quality Management District and with other fire participating fire agencies in Marin, including the Novato Fire Protection District. Event organizers will be in daily contact with the air control district to evaluate smoke dispersal.

The burns are also being conducted as weather warms up. The National Weather Service has issued a heat advisory in Marin for Wednesday, June 22. Fire agencies will take extra precautions by checking the weather hourly along with the extra hydration of all personnel. No wind events are predicted for this week.

The springtime training events will involve about 120 personnel, including 80 seasonal firefighters. Trainees will practice hose laying, hand line construction, tactical communications, and other tasks employed during emergencies. Residents can expect to see fire engines and other fire vehicles in the area before and after the prescribed burns.

The prescribed burns, which will amount to about 20 acres, are part of a larger fuels management plan that builds upon work already completed by Marin County Fire’s Tamalpais Fire Crew over the past 10 years. Instead of just grassland, the firefighters will burn high-hazard fuels like brush, french broom, downed trees, and standing dead trees.

Training organizers understand resident concerns about conducting controlled burns during a spring season that has produced very little rain. The moisture in heavier vegetation is still relatively high at this time of year, so it’s easier to burn materials that are targeted to burn during training. The burn site is surrounded by a combination of fire control lines and dirt roads that are in place to keep the fire from spreading beyond the training area. Additional firefighters are also on hand to support the holding operations.

Local fire agencies urge residents to create defensible space around their homes to lower occupant danger and increase the chances of saving property during a wildfire. Responsible vegetation management and keeping driveways and roads clear of overgrown shrubs help ensure access by first responders during a wildfire. When evaluating your home’s safety measures, consider installing fire-resistant roofing, siding, vents, and dual-pane windows as a wildfire mitigation method.

More information about fire safety can be found on the FIRESafe Marin website, the Marin County Fire website, the Marin Wildfire Prevention Authority website, and CAL FIRE’s Ready for Wildfire website. Learn about how to prepare an emergency kit at the Ready Marin website. Residents are urged to register their contact information with Alert Marin notification system overseen by the Marin County Sheriff’s Office of Emergency Services.


Todd Overshiner
Battalion Chief
Marin County Fire Department

33 Castle Rock Ave.
Woodacre, CA 94973
(415) 473-6717
Email: Todd Overshiner
Marin County Fire website