U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service staff at Kenai National Wildlife Refuge just released a report that examines the effects of past fuel treatments on the refuge and how they influenced fire behavior and spread during the Card Street Fire on the Kenai Peninsula this past summer.
Here’s a brief summary of the report. Click on the PDF link below for the full report.:
The Fuel Treatments of the Skilak Loop Road area had a significant effect on the Card Street Fire. The combination of the 1984 tree crushing and the 2009 treatment effectively
manipulated the vegetation which resulted in conditions where firefighters could
successfully engage the fire in a direct manner. Although the 2009 treatment was mostly
intended for educational and habitat enhancement purposes, it was also effective at serving
as a fuel break. Neither of the fuels treatments would have stopped the fire on their own,
but they undoubtedly were beneficial at slowing fire progress and intensity to a level
where firefighters could safely conduct suppression activities. Had the treatments not been
there, evidence suggests the fire would have sustained itself as a canopy fire and continued
to rapidly spread north and east, potentially impacting private property in the community
of Sterling, infrastructure associated with the Skilak Loop Wildlife Recreation Area, and
ultimately multiple values associated with the Sterling Highway corridor.