BLM AFS Smokejumpers log first fire jump of year

BLM Alaska Fire Service smokejumpers had their first fire jump of the year Wednesday to help contain a fire on military lands outside Delta Junction. When Delta Training Area Range Control reported the fire just after 5 p.m., it was reported as 10-15 acres and was burning in black spruce in the Battle Area Complex about eight miles southeast of Delta Junction. The area calls for a full suppression management option due to infrastructure within the training complex. Fort Wainwright Fire Department personnel were on scene during U.S. Army Alaska training and were the first to respond. Fort Greely Fire Department and the Division of Forestry also responded. However, due to the proximity of the fire off of the road system, firefighting vehicles were unable to access the incident. The decision was made to deploy BLM AFS smokejumpers to help. A BLM AFS airplane and a helicopter were also dispatched to the area as a precaution and to help assist if needed. The helicopter was staged nearby in case it was needed to drop buckets of water on the flames. By the time smokejumpers — who parachute from airplanes to fight remote fires — could get a look at the fire from the air, the firefighters on scene had already made significant progress on the ground. Eight smokejumpers landed on the ground at 6:27 p.m. to help contain the fire and mop up any left over hot spots. The fire was contained at just under five acres by 9:45 p.m. Firefighters returned to the area Thursday morning to check the fire area for containment, and placed the fire in monitor status. Fire staff will continue to monitor the incident.

This is a good reminder that with rapidly withdrawing snow conditions and exposed dry grass, it’s critical that the public has a heightened awareness and institute sound fire precautions. This is a good time to complete #Firewise preparations around your home for the potential upcoming fire season in Alaska. For more information please visit http://forestry.alaska.gov/fire/firewise 

Contact BLM AFS Public Affairs Specialist Beth Ipsen at eipsen@blm.gov or at (907)356-5510 for more information.

About BLM Alaska Fire Service

The Bureau of Land Management Alaska Fire Service (AFS) located at Fort Wainwright, Alaska, provides wildland fire suppression services for over 244 million acres of Department of the Interior and Native Corporation Lands in Alaska. In addition, AFS has other statewide responsibilities that include: interpretation of fire management policy; oversight of the BLM Alaska Aviation program; fuels management projects; and operating and maintaining advanced communication and computer systems such as the Alaska Lightning Detection System. AFS also maintains a National Incident Support Cache with a $10 million inventory. The Alaska Fire Service provides wildland fire suppression services for America’s “Last Frontier” on an interagency basis with the State of Alaska Department of Natural Resources, USDA Forest Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the U.S. Military in Alaska.

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