Nine months after the Funny River Fire burned more than 195,000 acres south of Anchorage on the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska, the state Department of Natural Resources has eliminated the Wildland Fire Academy as well as 16 jobs within the agency after budget cuts by Governor Bill Walker.
Below are excerpts from an article in the Juneau Empire:
With the devastating, weeks-long Funny River Fire just months behind Alaskans, the Department of Natural Resources’ Wildland Fire Academy is facing elimination.
The program, which trains civilians as forest firefighters, did not make the cut when Gov. Bill Walker trimmed the state budget this month.
“It takes the young folks from the villages and trains them up and gives them a career path for firefighting,” DNR Deputy Commissioner Ed Fogels said at a Monday Senate finance committee meeting. “It’s just one of those things where we’re looking at reducing our budgets and we have to make reductions somewhere.”
Also hit was the Division of Forestry’s Southwest region firefighting staff. Through the governor’s cuts, the staff, based in McGrath, would be diminished from 22 people to six. Combined with the elimination of the fire academy, it’s a $1.1 million cut.
[Senator Peter] Micciche [who represents the Funny River area on the Kenai Peninsula] said after the meeting that the fire changed the way he thinks of essential services, and he would now definitely include firefighting on his list of state must-haves.
[DNR Deputy Commissioner Ed] Fogels said the state will bring in additional fire crews from the Lower 48 if need be, something the state will then need to pay for at a cost that “will be more expensive than if we had our own fire crews.”
Vegetation treatments and pre-constructed fuel breaks in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge helped firefighters protect homes that might otherwise have burned in the Funny River Fire on the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska in May.
The five abandoned wolf pups that were rescued by firefighters on the Funny River Fire on March 27 are doing well and will be adopted by the Minnesota Zoo, located south of Minneapolis-St. Paul in Apple Valley, Minnesota. The pups will remain at the Alaska Zoo until veterinarians are certain the animals are old and healthy enough for transport. When found last week, they weighed about 2.5 pounds apiece and suffered from dehydration and punctures from porcupine quills.
Thirty five applicants awarded funding for their fire research projects
The Joint Fire Science Program announced that 35 applicants have received funding for their proposed fire-related research. The topics include smoke, fuels treatment effectiveness, fire behavior and effects, bats and fire, people and fire, and more.
Surprisingly, the New York Times on May 31 published an obituary of Mr. Sallee. John N. Maclean pointed it out to us, saying that he learned some things from the article. After the death of his father, Norman Maclean, John helped to edit the almost finished Young Men and Fire, the book his father wrote about the fire. John later wrote several books of his own about wildland fires, the latest being The Esperanza Fire.
Below is another photo related to the fire. It was taken in Mann Gulch by Alan Thomas, who was the editor at the University of Chicago Press who worked on Young Men and Fire with the Macleans.
Colorado Fire Chief talks about how climate change has affected his job — and his life
The video below features Elk Creek, Colorado fire chief Bill McLaughlin, whose department fought the Lower North Fork Fire in 2012 that killed three residents and burned 4,140 acres. “Climate change is very real,” says McLaughlin. “It’s changed my entire life.”
Firefighters rescued five wolf pups from an abandoned den Tuesday (March 27) as they battled the massive Funny River Fire in southern Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula. The pups had not been hurt by the blaze, according to a Facebook post by firefighters with the Kenai Wildlife National Refuge, who discovered the den.
Medics with the fire crew fed the fuzzy brown puppies glucose (sugar water) and plucked porcupine quills from their skin. In reward, they got some excited licks from the tiny pups. With help from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, the litter was taken to Anchorage, where they await a permanent home.
The pups are being treated and housed at the Alaska Zoo in Anchorage, where they are on antibiotics for the porcupine quill wounds. Since the pups have been handled by humans, they might not be candidates for release back into the wild.
Discover Magazine has a very interesting animation from a weather satellite, showing the smoke from the Funny River Fire on the Kenai Peninsula in southern Alaska being swept up into a huge cyclonic system over the northern Pacific. The image above is a screen grab, to which we added the arrows and the smoke and fire labels, but check out the video animation.
NASA has released photos of the Funny River Fire at Soldotna, Alaska taken May 20 at 1:23 local time by a Landsat satellite a day after the fire started on the 19th. We added a red line to the photos that represent the fire perimeter at 12:20 a.m. on May 29, 2014. In the false color photo above, the infrared sensor can see through some of the smoke and detects the heat, shown as orange, on the east and west fire edges.
The photo below is true color, as would be seen by the human eye.
Our primary coverage of the Funny River fire is HERE.
The Funny River Fire at Soldotna, Alaska has burned 192,831 acres and the Incident Management Team is calling it 46 percent contained.
Below is a report from the Team:
Cooler, damper weather moderated fire activity on Tuesday which allowed firefighters to switch from defense to offence for the first time since the Funny River Fire started nine days ago. Crews reinforced the containment lines on the west side of the fire in the Kasilof and Sterling Highway areas, and in the Funny River Road area. Progress was made with containment line on the north side of Torpedo Lake on the north side of the Kenai River. Overall fire containment is now 30 percent, with 713 firefighters working to keep the fire away from populated areas.
The evacuation order along the Funny River Road was cancelled yesterday and most residents returned to their homes. All remaining evacuation advisories have been lifted. The Lower Skilak Lake Campground remains closed until further notice.
Five structures were confirmed as lost to the fire. The owners were notified by the Kenai Peninsula Borough. These structures include one outbuilding (the main structure was saved), and four recreation cabins with limited access.
On Tuesday firefighters rescued five abandoned wolf pups on the fire. Check out the story and the photos HERE.
(UPDATE at 6:28 p.m. MDT, May 27, 2014) An update from the Funny River Fire incident Managment team at about 6 p.m. MDT:
Firefighters made excellent progress yesterday extending containment lines on the west side of the fire in the Kasilof and Sterling Highway areas. Crews also completed burnout operations along the northern perimeter (south of Funny River road) late in the day helping to secure areas that had burned over containment lines on Sunday. The fire grew to over 182,000 acres as winds continued to push the fire perimeter northeast towards the Skilak Lake Road and further east into the wildlife refuge area. Overall fire containment is now 30 percent.
The evacuation order along the Funny River road has been cancelled. Residents are allowed to return to their homes. This area remains under an evacuation advisory. The evacuation advisory along the Sterling Highway was also lifted. The Kenai Keys area remains under an evacuation advisory. The Lower Skilak Lake Campground remains closed until further notice.
**** (UPDATE at 10:35 a.m. MDT, May 27, 2014)
On Monday the Type 2 Incident Management Team for the Funny River Fire at Soldotna, Alaska mentioned that the fire had crossed the Kenai River near Torpedo Lake. The map, above, that we found on the Team’s Facebook page (it is not on their InciWeb page) shows that the fire has become established east of the river. It is no longer just a spot fire. Monday night the Team said the fire had burned 176,069 acres and 670 personnel were assigned. There have been no serious injuries. It is becoming difficult to find current, official information about the fire. Sometimes it is placed on InciWeb, occasionally it can be found on the Alaska Wildland Fire Information site, and then there’s Facebook and ESRI. There is a report from a Twitter user that it is raining in the fire area:
The incident management team running the Funny River Fire at Soldotna, Alaska reported the fire has burned 158,585 acres and it is 30 percent contained. It crossed the Kenai River Sunday afternoon near Torpedo Lake just east of the Kenai Keys. Several spot fires within the Keys did minor damage but were quickly put out. The team is working to confirm if any structures were lost. The wind driven fire is continuing to spread northeast towards the Skilak Lake Road. The Lower Skilak Lake Campground was evacuated and is closed until further notice. The Kenai Keys area is under an evacuation advisory. The weather forecast is calling for rain early Tuesday. Cooler and wet weather will help slow fire activity.