BEDFORD COUNTY, Va. (WFXR)—With the U.S. Forest Service using controlled burns to strengthen containment lines and remove unburned vegetation, aerial ignitions have been conducted to spark these strategic controlled burns. But what does this process intel for the forest service?

According to the U.S. Forest Service, a helicopter is used to complete the process. The helicopter will carry plastic sphere dispenser (PSD), PSD operator, and an ignition specialist to conduct aerial ignition operations.

The plastic sphere dispenser is a machine that was developed to provide a way to ignite vegetation in a short time over a large area, without causing major damage. How PSDs work is the machine will drop a sphere filled with potassium permanganate. The sphere then is injected with glycol and is ready to be ejected through the bottom of the machine.

The injection causes an exothermic reaction between the potassium permanganate and glycol. After coming out of the machine, the reaction ignites a small, controlled fire after a 30-50 second delays.

As for this week’s forecast, the Department of Forestry’s Incident Meteorologist Trainee Cody Ledbetter expects Matts Creek’s climate and weather to reflect moderate burning conditions. He expects an increase in humidity and lower temperatures, which are helpful conditions for crews working on containing the fire.

As the rain on Tuesday was much needed in the current containment process, Ledbetter says there is a chance of rain later in the week.

For the latest information on the Matts Creek wildfire, visit the Virginia Department of Forestry’s website.