Mat-Su firefighters responding to second grass fire in two days in Point MacKenzie area

UPDATE – 10 p.m. – Firefighters are making good progress getting a hose line around the perimeter of the Trumpeter Fire. The latest size estimate is 50 acres and the fire is 25% contained. A second helicopter has been added to assist with suppression efforts. Structure protection measures have been put in place for the one structure threatened on South Michael Way and a structure protection group has been established to assess the threat to other structures in the area.

ORIGINAL POST

Firefighters from the Alaska Division of Forestry’s Mat-Su Area office are working to contain an estimated 30-acre grass fire in the Point MacKenzie area west of Wasilla.

The Trumpeter Fire is located in the vicinity of South Trumpeter Drive and West New Homesteader Avenue, approximately 1 mile north of West Point MacKenzie Road.

Two firefighters from the Alaska Division of Forestry and Central Mat-Su Fire Department discuss strategy upon arriving at the Trumpeter Fire off South Trumpeter Drive in the Point MacKenzie area on Wednesday afternoon. Photo by Zach Overmeyer/Alaska Division of Forestry

A helicopter is being used to drop water on the fire and three Forestry engines have responded. The Pioneer Peak Interagency Hotshot Crew and Gannett Glacier Type 2 Initial Attack Crew, both based in Palmer, are also responding to assist with suppression efforts, putting the total number of personnel working on the fire at approximately 50. Another helicopter has been ordered to the fire to assist with bucket work.

Firefighters are accessing the fire via an ATV trail in the area and are working to set up a hose line to the fire. Two water tenders from the Central Mat-Su Fire Department are being used to provide a water supply for firefighters.

One structure near the head of the fire is threatened and the Pioneer Peak Hotshots are getting in place to protect it, if necessary.

The fire was reported by a local pilot at approximately 3:47 p.m. and was originally sized up as 2 acres in size but grew rapidly in the dry grass, aided by a light breeze out of the west.

The cause of the fire is undetermined at this time but it marks the second grass fire that Mat-Su firefighters have responded to in the past two days in the Point MacKenzie Area. Firefighters from the Mat-Su Area Forestry office and Central Mat-Su Fire Department on Tuesday made quick work of an approximately 1-acre fire caused by an escaped debris burn on Point MacKenzie Road. Firefighters were able to contain the fire quickly to prevent it from spreading into nearby forest.

An aerial photo of the Trumpeter Fire off South Trumpeter Drive in the Point MacKenzie illustrates how dry and snow-free conditions are in the lower Mat-Su Valley. Photo by Alaska Division of Forestry helitack.

Both blazes are indicative of extremely dry conditions in the southern Mat-Su Valley right now. With the snow melted and dead grass exposed, the surface fuels in the Palmer/Wasilla area are very receptive to any kind of ignition source. The temperature at the scene of the fire was reported at 69 degrees and the relative humidity was 18 percent. Given the dry, warm conditions, anyone doing any kind of permitted burning needs to use extreme caution and follow the guidelines on their burn permits, which are required for the use of burn barrels or open debris burning

The public is reminded that a burn suspension for most of the state with the exception of Southeast Alaska will go into effect on Friday, May 1 to reduce human-caused fires due to the impact COVID-19 is expected to have on resource availability of firefighters in Alaska and from the Lower 48. The Division of Forestry is trying to minimize potential exposure to COVID-19 for its firefighters by reducing human-caused fires. In addition, availability of resources from the Lower 48 remains uncertain due to travel restrictions and quarantine requirements.

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.

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