Escaped burn barrel fire in Mat-Su Valley destroys shed; illustrates importance of safe burning

The Alaska Division of Forestry got its first wildfire call of the season on Monday in the Mat-Su Valley when a fire in an unattended burn barrel with an inadequate fire break escaped into the wildland. The fire, at a home on Thunder Cloud Drive off Pittman Road, caught a nearby shed on fire, causing substantial damage and destroying all the homeowner’s tools. Fortunately, firefighters from the Central Mat-Su Fire Department and Meadow Lakes Fire Department responded in time to prevent the fire from spreading to the house and the fire was kept at just 0.1 acres.

The homeowner told Mat-Su Area Forestry prevention technician Ethan Eley that he had gone inside with the fire burning in the burn barrel in his front yard when he heard a loud “Swoosh” as the wind picked up and the fire escaped into dry ground fuels surrounding the barrel leading to the shed. The homeowner then called 911 to report the fire.

The homeowner was issued a written warning for having an inadequate fire break and uncontrolled spread of a fire. He was also given a general burn permit and advised of safe and legal burning practices.

The public needs to be aware that starting on April 1 a general burn permit will be required for the use of all burn barrels. This a change from previous years due in large part to situations like yesterday’s fire. Escaped burn barrel fires are one of the leading causes of structure and wildland fires in Alaska.

Yesterday’s incident illustrates how dry conditions are in the Mat-Su Valley and other parts of Southcentral Alaska due to the lack of snow and why it’s extremely important to burn safely even though burn permits are not required until April 1.

Remember, never leave a fire unattended, clear fire breaks down to mineral soil around any fire and have tools and water on hand in case the fire does escape.

The homeowner was issued a written warning for having an inadquate fire break around his burn barrel. Fire breaks around burn barrels should be cleared down to mineral soil to prevent fires from escaping.

The homeowner was issued a written warning for having an inadquate fire break around his burn barrel. Fire breaks around burn barrels should be cleared down to mineral soil to prevent fires from escaping.

Lack of snow in the Mat-Su Valley has resulted in extremely dry conditions, making it extremely important to burn safely. Photo by Ethan Eley /Division of Forestry

Lack of snow in the Mat-Su Valley has resulted in extremely dry conditions, making it extremely important to burn safely. Photo by Ethan Eley /Division of Forestry

Firefighters in the Mat-Su Valley responded to an escaped burn barrel fire that destroyed a shed near Wasilla on Monday. Photo by Ethan Eley/Division of Forestry

Firefighters in the Mat-Su Valley responded to an escaped burn barrel fire that destroyed a shed near Wasilla on Monday. Photo by Ethan Eley/Division of Forestry

About Alaska Division of Forestry

Alaska Division of Forestry website: http://forestry.alaska.gov/ Mission: The Alaska Division of Forestry proudly serves Alaskans through forest management and wildland fire protection. The Wildland Fire and Aviation Program provides safe, cost-effective and efficient fire protection services and related fire and aviation management activities to protect human life and values on State, private and municipal lands. The wildland fire program cooperates with other wildland fire agencies on a statewide, interagency basis.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: