Pinyon Pines -= photo courtesy of Don Mammoser on Shutterstock

Riverside County Fire Department crews are conducting controlled burns near the unincorporated community of Pine Cove to reduce excess vegetation that might otherwise fuel wildfires, and residents and motorists were advised not to be alarmed by the smoke.

The operation got underway Wednesday adjacent to the Stone Creek Campground, along Saw Mills Flats Road, just off of Highway 243, and will continue Friday between 6 a.m. and 1 p.m., according to the fire department.

In addition to county fire crews, firefighters from the Idyllwild Fire Protection District and the Cahuilla Tribal Fire Department are involved, officials said.

“Pile burning will occur on a plot that spans approximately 30 acres,” according to a county fire statement. “Drift smoke may be visible from nearby communities, but will disperse quickly and is not expected to be a health hazard.”

During the late fall and winter season, conditions are generally safe for burns, which are closely monitored and immediately suspended when there are signs of increasing winds or extremely low humidity.

Pile burning involves torching piles of brush to clear space around roads, campground buildings, communications towers and other facilities.

No road closures have been announced in connection with the operation.

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