The Division of Forestry’s Mat-Su area wildland fire technicians and members of the the Butte Fire Department will be conducting a controlled burn of available fuels at the Kenny and Patti Barber Shooting Range on Wednesday, April 20th, 2022. Numerous unplanned and unintended human caused wildfires have had their origins tied to shooting ranges across Alaska. The grasses and brush that often surround these areas dry out very quickly in the spring before green up. A quick internet search for “Alaska wildfires shooting range” will result in a lengthy list of unintended wildfires that are mostly avoidable. Using favorable conditions in the springtime to burn and remove the dry grasses creates the perfect fuel break, and essential training opportunities for local volunteer fire departments. One engine crew with a lead plus four Mat-Su wildland firefighters will team up with volunteers from Butte Fire Department. The local volunteers are planning on bringing a tender and brush truck. By working together, the two groups will synchronize their hand held radio settings and practice important early season fire refresher training.
Here’s what it looked like when a human caused a wildfire at this same firing range in 2018. Helicopter Manager Cal Maki, who is currently the Mat-Su Area Assistant Fire Management Officer, filmed this initial attack response by helicopter pilot Greg King. They were called by local dispatch and lifted off from Palmer Airport with the tactical firefighting crew of Andy Jones and Anthony Rogers. You’ll watch GoPro footage of the helicopter approaching and landing near the wildfire to configure the helicopter to drop water with an attached long line and bucket. This is your insider seat to get the true sense – with the helicopter still running – of how these specialized crews work quickly and safely to prepare the pilot to lift off alone and attack the fire with water drops.
Video credit: DOF Mat-Su Area Assistant Fire Management Officer Cal Maki
As a reminder, burn permits are required from April 1 through August 31. You can pick up a burn permit online at https://dnr.alaska.gov/burn or pick them up at your local forestry office and at many local fire departments.
Read more about protection areas, fire management plans and wildfire in Alaska here: http://forestry.alaska.gov/fire/fireplans
Visit Butte Fire Department on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/ButteFireandRescue/