Fires at shooting ranges in Fairbanks and Palmer prompt responses from state forestry

Wildland firefighters from the Alaska Division of Forestry and BLM Alaska Fire Service suppressed two wildfires Saturday that were triggered by recreational shooting at shooting ranges in Fairbanks and Palmer.

The first fire, the 9.1-acre Chena Hot Springs Road Shooting Range Fire, was reported at approximately 1:30 p.m. at a shooting range near Mile 36 Chena Hot Springs Road in the Chena River State Recreation Area east of Fairbanks. The fire was reported to be spreading rapidly uphill behind the shooting range.

Smoke rises from a wildfire at a shooting range near Mile 36 of Chena Hot Springs Road east of Fairbanks on Saturday. The fire started in the same area as a fire two years ago. Photo by Alaska Division of Forestry air attack.

A helicopter from the Fairbanks Forestry station was used to make multiple water drops on the fire while ground forces were mobilized. A Helitack load and three Forestry engines initially responded and began working to suppress the fire. Eight BLM Alaska Fire Service smokejumpers responded to the fire by van and the White Mountain Type 2 Initial Attack Crew based in Fairbanks was called in to assist so engines could be released and available for potential new starts.

The fire was creeping and smoldering in an old burn scar from a fire that occurred two years ago at the same time of year.

The helicopter performed water bucket work for approximately three hours, stopping the forward progress of the fire up the hill, while firefighters on the ground established a water supply and plumbed the fire with hose to attack the flanks.

The 9.1-acre fire was declared 100% contained just after 8 p.m. All resources returned to their respective bases. The White Mountain Crew will return today to check for any remaining heat spots.

The second fire, the nearly 1-acre Maud Road Fire, was called in just after 7 p.m. at a shooting range near the Knik River outside of Palmer. The fire was reported as a 1-acre brush and grass fire, spreading rapidly uphill.

A helicopter was dispatched from the Forestry station in Palmer and made multiple water drops on the head of the fire while firefighters from Forestry and the Butte Volunteer Fire Department worked to position hose lays on the right and left flank.

The area the fire was burning in was part of a planned prescribed burn next week and the decision was made to conduct that burning operation when the Gannett Glacier Type 2 Initial Attack Crew arrived on the fire at 8:30 p.m. The crew burned off the area in the prescribed burn plan and completed burning operations by 11:30.

The crew remained on the fire overnight and will be seeking out any remaining hotspots today.

Both fires illustrate how dry conditions are right now around the state and how receptive the dead, dry grass is to any ignition source. Please be careful with any kind of activity that can create a spark.

Categories: AK Fire Info

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