Prescribed burn operations planned on military training lands in FNSB to reduce wildfire threat

Smoke may be visible northeast of Eielson Air Force Base and off the Richardson Highway southeast of Fairbanks

A firefighter holding a long-handled flapper uses a drip torch to light grass on fire that is burning through a field of yellow, dead grass.
BLM AFS Fire Specialist Brita West uses a drip torch to light dead, dry grass on fire while on a prescribed burn operation on the Fort Wainwright Small Arms Complex south of the Richardson Highway just southeast of Fairbanks on April 15, 2016. Photo by Beth Ipsen, BLM AFS

FAIRBANKS, Alaska – Starting as early as Saturday, May 14, the Bureau of Land Management Alaska Fire Service (BLM AFS), in coordination with the U.S. Army Garrison Alaska and the U.S. Army Alaska, will implement prescribed fires on Fort Wainwright and the Yukon Training Area (YTA) to reduce the likelihood of a large wildfires occurring on military training lands this summer. The areas identified for the prescribed burns in the Small Arms Complex on Fort Wainwright are immediately southeast of Fairbanks on the south side of the Richardson Highway. The areas scheduled for burning in the YTA are 5 miles north and 2 to 20 miles east of Eielson Air Force Base. The prescribed burning may continue through the first week of June, as weather conditions allow.

Prescribed burns are fires that are intentionally set under controlled conditions to remove dry and dead grass and lower the risk of wildfires that could impact nearby communities. Removing the fire-prone vegetation in the spring, under more moderate conditions, allows for the greatest degree of control and the lowest risk of negative impacts, such as smoke.

Firefighter looking down while using a drip torch to light dead grass on fire, leaving a wall of flames behind him.
BLM AFS firefighter Brian Pitts uses a drip torch on May 8, 2021 to burn a field of dead grass to reduce the wildfire risk on military training lands in the U.S. Army Alaska Digital Multi-Purpose Range Complex outside Fairbanks, Alaska. Photo by Beth Ipsen, BLM AFS

The BLM AFS and the U.S. Army have been conducting these annual prescribed burns on Interior military training lands for the past several years. Taking these preventative measures now decreases the fire danger around military training targets used during the summer when conditions are hotter and drier, vegetation is more receptive to burning, and firefighting resources may be limited. Fires will be ignited only when favorable weather conditions are present and forecasted. An approved burn plan is in place that includes authorization from the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (ADEC) Division of Air Quality.

Smoke may be visible during burning operations from communities and roadways around the Fairbanks North Star Borough. The BLM AFS is working with ADEC and the National Weather Service to monitor smoke conditions and to ensure compliance with local, state, and federal air quality regulations. There are also procedures in place to halt ignitions if conditions become unfavorable. Trained personnel will monitor the prescribed fire areas until the fires are out.

In addressing this priority work, all agencies will limit COVID-19 and other health and safety risks to firefighters and the public using established Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, state, and local guidelines, and prescribed fire procedures. This includes potential smoke effects on people.

For more information contact BLM AFS Fire Information at (907) 356-5510 or the Upper Yukon-Tanana Dispatch Center at (907) 356-5555.

Map areas targeted during the prescribed burning on military training lands in the Fairbanks North Star Borough.
Map areas targeted during the prescribed burning on military training lands in the Fairbanks North Star Borough. Click here for a PDF version of the map.

Contact BLM AFS Public Affairs Specialist Beth Ipsen at 907-356-5510 or email eipsen@blm.gov for more information. Click here for PDF version of news release.

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The Bureau of Land Management Alaska Fire Service (AFS) located at Fort Wainwright, Alaska, provides wildland fire suppression services for over 240 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.



Categories: Prescribed Fire

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