California firefighters prepare to incinerate dead trees following beetle epidemic

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(Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

CRESSMAN, Calif. — Officials in California say they’re preparing to use large air-blasting incinerators to burn up trees killed by drought and a beetle epidemic ravaging Sierra Nevada forests.

Division Chief Jim McDougald of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection says the state has bought 10 burners that reach such high temperatures they give off little smoke.

Gov. Jerry Brown last year declared an emergency at the height of drought that is killing millions of trees feared to fuel catastrophic wildfires.

Forest ecologist Chad Hanson criticizes the burners; he says that the lack of smoke doesn’t mean they won’t release harmful greenhouse gases.

Officials have hit obstacles trying to use the wood as biofuel for producing energy; the dead trees often deteriorate too quickly to sell as lumber.

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