CHADRON - The Nebraska National Forests and Grasslands began a 450-acre prescribed burn near Chadron Thursday, triggering a large number phone calls and reports of the smoke being visible from as far away as Crawford and Hay Springs.

KCSR Radio reports Pine Ridge District Rangers say the burn on the Collons Allotment 7-miles southeast of Chadron is intended to reduce hazardous fuels and reduce ponderosa pine encroachment.

The Chadron and Crawford volunteer fire departments conducted the burn along with state and federal agency firefighters.

Crews will continue to monitor the fire area until it is out.

Prescribed fires are an effective tool available to reducing forest fuels, recycling nutrients, and increasing habitat diversity.