ALASKA VILLAGE MEN NOW BATTLE FIRES ACROSS THE GREAT NORTHWEST
Dozens of men from Fairbanks and Interior villages boarded planes this week for Spokane, Washington, where they were transported by bus to Idaho and elsewhere to fight wildfires.
Four Type 2 Emergency Firefighter crews said farewell to Alaska’s wet skies as the 49th State’s fire season winds down, with few incidences for the crews to work on in what was a quiet season.
Alaska Division of Forestry’s Fairbanks #2 Crew Boss Ken Richards said the crew is happy to be heading south to get to work.
“I’m excited,” Richards said. “Whatever we can do to help in the Lower 48 we’ll do. That’s what we’re here for.”
While the situation in the Lower 48 has resources stretched thin, Alaska has downgraded to a “preparedness level one,” the lowest. Firefighters demobilized from the three remaining staffed fires in Alaska on Tuesday. Meanwhile, the four emergency firefighter crews will bring fresh energy to the more than 28,000 firefighters already working on wildfires across the west. A second jet load with four more Type 2 EFF crews flew south on Friday.
The rural crews were flown in to BLM AFS facilities on Fort Wainwright Saturday and equipped with things like Nomex, fire shelters and packs for a 14-day assignment.
They are the Kobuk Valley #2 crew from Selawik, Ambler, Noorvik and Buckland; the K River Crew from Hughes and Allakaket; and the Yukon Koyukuk Crew with firefighters from Huslia, Nulato, Galena and Koyukuk. They’ll get their hand tools and chain saws once they get to Idaho. Then they’ll more than likely head out to a fire in the Northern Rockies Area which includes Montana, North Dakota, northern Idaho and a small portion of South Dakota.
Those who headed out Friday included men from the Division of Forestry Fairbanks #1 and Delta crews, BLM Alaska Fire Service’s Yukon Flats and Kusilvak Crew. The Yukon Flats Crew is made up of firefighters from Fort Yukon, Venetie and Arctic Village. The Kusilvak Crew, which is named after a mountain about 30 miles from Mountain Village, is made up of firefighters from Marshall, Mountain Village and Pilot Station.