Alaska Interagency Coordination Center and Fire Management

Bristol Bay lands are divided among several stewards such as the National Park Service, the US Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Alaska Division of Parks & Outdoor Recreation, and tribal organizations such as Choggiung Limited and the Bristol Bay Native Association.

But when it comes to fires, suppression is handled by the Alaska Division of Forestry.

“Headquarters for the Southwest region is in McGrath,” he said. “This is one of the largest suppression areas in the United States. The fires we have now span 70 million acres.

It was Public Information Officer Brentwood Reid. He noted that each land management entity sends its priority and risks to the division, such as cabins, fishing camps or indigenous settlements.

“They are the jurisdictional officials, they are the land managers that the fire incident commanders report to through the Alaska Forestry Division and get direction,” he said. declared.

When an incident is reported, land managers and Forestry Division officials meet daily to discuss what needs to be done in their respective jurisdictions.

All agencies report to the public through the Alaska Interagency Coordination Center, which includes the U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Fish and Wildlife Service, Department of Agriculture Forestry, the Alaska Department of Natural Resources, and the National Park Service. .

The southwest region has seen an unusual amount of fires so far this year and Reid says when resources dwindle, the interagency center must prioritize what to do.

“They’ll look at every fire that’s burning and they’ll basically organize them from one to several big priorities,” he said. “They’re looking at the resource demands that each of these fires need, how big those needs are, and the consequences if they don’t get those resources. And then they make those decisions about where to send the resources.

The agency collective also activated the Northwest Compact, which allows the state to request assistance from the lower 48. Employees from Oregon and Washington are currently in Alaska to help put out fires in the state.

Reid says when the governor issues an emergency declaration, funding becomes available and states can share resources such as trained personnel or fire planes.

“The way nationwide wildfires are managed, each region of the country has a coordination center that calculates the risk of fires and large fires on a given day depending on the weather depending on the fuels , resource availability, and then they ramp up what’s called the level of readiness,” he said.

The level of preparedness assesses the number of resources that can be mobilized to deal with fires. If a fire gets to a certain point, Reid says land management agencies can even call for help from other countries.

“Big seasons, when, as you see in the lower 48s, it unfortunately becomes more common, where we have a lot of really big fires in the West,” he said. “Land managers are even going outside the United States, and they will bring resources from Canada will bring sources from Australia.”

The smoke has cleared in the area over the past few days. But when fires burn in the area, the smoke can cause respiratory problems and the Dillingham Fire Department recommends that susceptible or compromised people wear N-95 masks when there is smoke outside.

Masks are free and available at Dillingham Town Hall or the blue harbor building near Dillingham.

Cooler weather and rain swept through the Bristol Bay area over the weekend. This week is expected to be warm and sunny, and a burning ban is in effect in Dillingham.

Contact the author at [email protected] or call (907) 842-2200

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