A pre-planned burn of available fuels under a controlled environment was successfully completed at the Kenny and Patti Barber Shooting Range located on Maud Road on Wednesday, April 20th, 2022. The grasses and brush that often surround these types of popular areas dry out very quickly in the spring. Butte Fire Department Chief Michael Shipton’s volunteer firefighters conducted the one acre burn along side professional wildland firefighters from Mat-Su Forestry. Using favorable conditions in the springtime allows for essential training opportunities for local volunteer fire departments. “We don’t get a chance all of the time to work with a whole lot of other departments or other agencies,” said Chief Shipton. “When we have an opportunity to work with other agencies, build that mutual respect, but also understand how each other work, it’s a great opportunity.”
Video filmed and edited by Mat-Su Forestry Fire Prevention Specialist and Public Information Officer Kristian Knudson
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. One engine crew with a lead plus four Mat-Su wildland firefighters can be seen shoulder to shoulder with volunteers from Butte Fire Department. The local volunteers brought a tender and brush truck. The two groups synchronized their hand held radio settings and practiced important early season fire refresher training.
Maud Road – Site of Frequent Human Caused Wildfires
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/