DOF firefighters contain fire near Nenana after locals use bucket brigade to douse flames

Alaska Division of Forestry Firefighters Carlton Story, on left, and Eugene Lee, prepare to cut up white spruce trees that have fallen onto the fire to prevent flames from hiding under the trees. Alaska Division of Forestry photo.

Alaska Division of Forestry Firefighters Carlton Story, on left, and Eugene Lee, prepare to cut up white spruce trees that have fallen onto the fire to prevent flames from hiding under the trees. Alaska Division of Forestry photo.

Local residents formed a bucket brigade to knock down a wildfire they found burning next to the Middle Tanana River near Nenana yesterday. Five residents, including a couple of men with past wildland firefighting experience, worked on the fire until an BLM Alaska Fire Service (BLM AFS) helicopter and Alaska Division of Forestry (DOF) firefighters could take over. They first tried using spruce boughs to beat the fire, but turned to using five-gallon buckets to haul water from the nearby river when the flames kept popping back up.

“They were able to keep it in check,” said Cameron Winfrey who is the acting Fire Management Officer for Fairbanks Area Forestry.

Local residents reported the fire at 6:42 p.m. They discovered the fire burning one mile west of Nenana after spotting the smoke. A BLM AFS aircraft and helicopter responded from Fairbanks to check it out. Three DOF firefighters drove an engine towing a metal boat they used to get to the fire. By the time firefighters got on scene, the Middle Nenana River Fire (#388) was about 100 feet by 50 feet in size and smoldering in white spruce and moss. The three firefighters got to work, relieving the five residents. The helicopter dumped eight buckets of water on the fire while the three firefighters set up a pump in the nearby river and used it to spray down the flames to successfully contain the fire. They worked late into the day and remained on the fire overnight. Five more DOF firefighters arrived today to work on the fire that is burning deep into the moss and root system. They will continue to mop it up over the next few days.

For more information, contact BLM AFS Public Affairs Specialist Beth Ipsen at (907)388-25159 or eipsen@blm.gov.

A BLM Alaska Fire Service dumped eight buckets full of water on the Middle Nenana River Fire (#388) Tuesday night to help contain the fire burning a mile west of Nenana. Photo courtesy Brian Charlie.

A BLM Alaska Fire Service dumped eight buckets full of water on the Middle Nenana River Fire (#388) Tuesday night to help contain the fire. Photo courtesy Brian Charlie.

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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