You Must Be Kidding! Four April 2024 Grass Fires Reported Already In Delta Junction

IT'S SPRING... SOMEWHERE  With Much Of The State Still Blanketed In Snow, Delta Junction Has Enough Uncovered Grassland To Launch Early ...


IT'S SPRING... SOMEWHERE 

With Much Of The State Still Blanketed In Snow, Delta Junction Has Enough Uncovered Grassland To Launch Early Spring Grass Fires 

APRIL 8TH, 2024

 


Fire Danger Sign Along One Of Alaska's Roads In April, 2010. (Photo from Country Journal Archives) 


Snow Cover In Gakona, April 8th, 2024 (Country Journal) 


REPORT FROM BLM
ALASKA FIRE SERVICE

Four small, early season wildfires on Interior military training lands reinforce importance of prescribed burning


BY BLM ALASKA FIRE SERVICE on APRIL 5, 2024

FAIRBANKS, Alaska – Four small wildfires ignited in dry grass during military training south Delta Junction were swiftly extinguished Thursday. The fires occurred in the Jarvis Range in the Donnelly Training Area, a military range slated for upcoming annual prescribed burning by BLM Alaska Fire Service (BLM AFS) personnel to mitigate the risk of wildfire outbreaks from military activities.

Each year, BLM AFS collaborates with U.S. Army Garrison Alaska to conduct prescribed burns in training areas near Delta Junction, Eielson Air Force Base, and south of Fairbanks, clearing dead grass post-snowmelt to reduce wildfire risks to nearby communities, resources, and facilities.

U.S. Army helicopters were using the range for training when exposed, dry grass caught on fire. U.S. Army Garrison Alaska range control personnel quickly extinguished the fire. Snow has since blanketed the area with more forecasted over the weekend. This weather also pushed back prescribed burning in the Donnelly Training Area that was scheduled to start early next week.

The recent wildfires emphasize the critical importance of prescribed burning in military training areas, especially before the hotter summer months when surrounding woodlands become dry and highly susceptible to fire. Undertaking these proactive measures in spring is essential, given the potential strain on firefighting resources later in the fire season, heightening the risk of managing large wildfires effectively.Map of the Donnelly Training Area near Delta Junction showing the areas that are targeted for prescribed burning in the upcoming weeks. The Jarvis Range where the four wildfires ignited during military training on Thursday is located east of Fort Greely and south of Delta Junction. Click on this link for a PDF version of the map.

Last year, nearly 50,000 acres were treated during these prescribed burns on military training lands including:Donnelly Training Areas near Delta Junction.
Yukon Training Area near Eielson Air Force Base.
Small Arms Complex on Fort Wainwright between North Pole and Fairbanks.

In order to consider a training area treated and calling the prescribed burn operation successful, the threat of wildfire is effectively reduced. This is typically accomplished by burning a thick enough swath along the edges of the area’s perimeter that if a wildfire is ignited, it is unable to burn outside the training area.

There are multiple success stories in recent years from prescribed burns keeping wildfires small.

Of the 3.1 million acres burned in Alaska in 2022, only 145 acres burned in the 19 fires that occurred on military training lands in Interior Alaska. Some of these fires were quickly put out by range personnel staged at training areas specifically to keep an eye out for fires ignited during training. Other fires on the larger, more remote ranges were kept confined because they had nowhere to go, mostly because firefighters burned off the dead grass during prescribed fires in the springtime.

The BLM AFS remains committed to collaborating with the military to continue these annual prescribed burns for reducing the risk of wildfires and safeguarding nearby communities, resources, and facilities. Despite weather delays, BLM AFS is eager to resume prescribed burning operations and sustain efforts to mitigate wildfire threats in the region.

Through these ongoing initiatives, the BLM AFS, the U.S. Army and Air Force aim to maintain the success achieved in recent years, where prescribed burns have played a vital role in limiting the scale and impact of wildfires in Interior Alaska.

Contact BLM AFS Public Affairs Specialist Beth Ipsen at (907)388-2159 or eipsen@blm.gov for more information.

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