By Todd Wels

Triplicate staff writer

SMITH RIVER The large plumes of smoke that rose from the woods outside Smith River werent the result of a forest fire.

More like ten of them but they were all under control.

The H.W. III Timber and Land Company, based in Brookings, Ore. conducted an 18-acre slash burn Tuesday, destroying three logging operations worth of waste, as well as waste that was left over from the construction of U.S. Highway 101, according to Forester Steve Nicholson, on-site to coordinate the burn.

Nicholson, a former professional firefighter, said the logging waste was placed into 20-foot piles designed to burn hot, which would limit the amount of smoke. In addition, the piles were shaped so smoke would blow above the highway, as well as nearby residences.

Nicholson and his assistant Jason Griffin used approximately half a gallon of diesel per pile as accelerant.

You have to have lots of permits to get this far, Nicholson said, noting that H.W. III, named for its owner Hank Westbrook III, had to receive permits both from the California Department of Forestry and the North Coast Air Quality Control Board to conduct the burn.

The burn will be connected over the next week or so, with heavy equipment being used to consolidate the piles as they burn down.

According to Nicholson, H.W. III plans to sow grass seed and plant trees in the area, once the burn is completed, and may look toward subdividing it for housing developments at a later date.

As Nicholson strolled through the dense smoke, followed by his faithful dog Mick, he turned with a smile on his face.

Think this will contribute to global warming? he joked.