Fire Stories

Fire stories from the national parks highlight events, incidents, and the like, associated with fire and fuels management, as well as fire education, technology, partnerships, and more. Stories highlight work related to Department of the Interior initiatives as well as local and regional initiatives.

2010 Fire Stories by Park

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Alaska Region, Alaska

Online Tool Tracks Seasonal Fire Danger in Alaska (FY 10)* Hoping to fill the gap of scattered and nonexistent online fire danger tracking tools for Alaska, the NPS Alaska Region Fire Management team developed the Fire Weather Index Seasonal Tracking program (FWIST), an effective and easily accessible online tracking tool.

Big Bend National Park, Texas

Park Management Ignited Burns Support Five Year Research Study (FY 10) A five-year researcher study is seeking the most effective ways in which to restore fire and or to reduce fuel buildup in the Chisos Mountains. The five-year study seeks to find the most effective techniques for fire restoration and fuel reduction.

First Smokejumpers to Jump in the State of Texas (FY 10)* The first smokejumpers to jump in the history of the state of Texas were dispatched from Silver City, New Mexico, on May 30, 2010.

International Los Diablos Wildland Fire Crew: 20 Years of Service (FY 10)* The first issue of ¡Listo!, the new quarterly newsletter of Big Bend National Park's Los Diablos wildland fire crew, is now available online.

Big Bend National Park's Los Diablos Wildland Fire Crew Ready for 2010 Season (FY 10) Participants in La Programa Los Diablos completed their annual wildland fire fighter safety refresher and training March 25, 2010 at Big Bend National Park, renewing their twenty year commitment to serve as needed for the benefit of this unique yet remote resource and the United States wildland fire community.

Big Cypress National Preserve, Florida

New "Mud Buggy" Will be Easier to Maintain and Safer to Drive (FY 10)* For years, wildland firefighters at Big Cypress National Preserve have relied on custom-built "mud buggies" to reach the hundreds of camps, inholdings, and other facilities that need wildfire protection at this unique National Park Service unit.

Big Thicket National Preserve, Texas

Park Completes 693 Acres of Prescribed Burning in the Wildland Urban Interface (FY 10)* On January 27, 2010 Big Thicket National Preserve completed ignition of the Wildwood Prescribed Burn in the Hickory Creek Savannah Unit.

Chickasaw National Recreation Area, Oklahoma

Local Fire Departments Receive Funds from NPS (FY 10)* A total of $21,000 of federal funds will be distributed to three local departments, stated Chickasaw National Recreation Area Superintendent Bruce Noble.

Congaree National Park, South Carolina

Surviving Scorch: A New Interpretive Program (FY 10)* Interpretive rangers at Congaree National Park have developed a new interpretive walk that promotes prescribed fire, entitled "Surviving Scorch."

Cumberland Gap National Historical Park, KY, TN, VA

Detailers Help Cumberland Gap Wildland Fire Module Succeed During a Challenging Prescribed Fire Season (FY 10)* In November 2009, the Cumberland Gap Wildland Fire Module (CUGA WFM) leader was injured during a felling accident. During his six-month recovery, which coincided with the southern prescribed fire season, the module was challenged to fill a crucial leadership position.

Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, Pennsylvania

Trainee Arborists Help Some Neighbors (FY 10)* In March 2010, a team of National Park Service arborists and trainees safely felled about 350 dead oaks in a 40-acre strip in Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area along its border with the Plymouth Lake development.

Dinosaur National Monument, Utah / Colorado

Roundtop Lookout Placed On National Historic Register (FY 10) In January 2010 Roundtop Fire Lookout Tower in Dinosaur National Monument was named to the National Historic Lookout Register by the Forest Fire Lookout Association for its many years of service in fire detection.

El Malpais National Monument, New Mexico

Fire Education and Safety Programs (FY 10)* On April 19, 2010 the fire management staff at El Malpais National Monument (including six members of the fire crew a.k.a. the Lava Monsters, the fire management officer (FMO), fire program management assistant (FPMA), and the fuels specialist) participated in a fire education and safety program at Mt. Taylor Elementary in Grants, NM.

Everglades National Park, Florida

Exploring and Learning Fire Ecology through Place Based Science Inquiry Learning (FY 10)* In March 2010, Everglades National Park and Miami Dade College School of Education conducted a successful three-part lesson on the role of fire in maintaining a healthy ecosystem within the Pine Rocklands of Everglades National Park.

Everglades Reduces Hazardous Fuels and Exotic Invasives on 2,200 Acres of Wildland-Urban Interface (FY 10)* On February 8, 2010, Everglades National Park successfully executed the 2,200-acre Heck House prescribed burn in the wildland-urban interface west of Miami.

Fort Davis National Historic Site, Texas

NPS Provides Local Firefighters RFA Grant (FY 10)* The National Park Service (NPS), through Fort Davis National Historic Site, provided $5,000 in rural fire assistance (RFA) funding to the Fort Davis Volunteer Fire Department in August, 2010.

Golden Gate National Recreation Area, California

Recovery Act Fuel Reduction Creates Jobs, Improves Safety (FY 10)* In 2009-2010, S.F. Bay Area National Parks received funding from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act to accomplish several high priority fuel reduction projects. This economic stimulus program required federal agencies to choose projects that addressed the highest priority mission needs, created the largest number of jobs in the shortest period of time, and created lasting value for the American public.

Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

Basic Firefighting Academy (FY 10)* Fire personnel at Grand Canyon National Park hosted a 2010 Basic Wildland Firefighting Academy for nine Grand Canyon High School students and local residents with an interest in wildland fire management.

Grand Canyon Hosts Slovenian FIRE Delegation (FY 10)* On May 5-6, 2010, Grand Canyon National Park fire, aviation, and emergency services personnel hosted a Slovenian delegation from the First International Responder Exchange (FIRE) program.

Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Short Course Helps Prepare Fire Information Officers (FY 10)* Staff at Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks teamed up to teach a half-day crash course in fire information for employees from both parks and neighboring forests. Twenty-four people took the course, which covered several key factors of fire information.

Fire, Exotics Management Collaborate in War against Weeds (FY 10)* The mere mention of invasive, exotic plants in a burn unit can complicate or even derail a prescribed fire project, but fire and resource management personnel at Grand Teton found common ground on the Phelps Moraine project to address the weeds and still move forward on an important fuels project.

Youth Conservation Program and Fire Crews Team Up on Fuels Project (FY 10)* For the past four summers, the Youth Conservation Program (YCP) has teamed up with the Teton Interagency Fuels Crew to help complete a fuels reduction project. During summer 2010, 25 YCP students and 18 NPS and USFS employees worked together to reduce hazard fuels adjacent to the Signal Mountain Campground.

Arson Dog, Investigators Converge on Cathedral Group Fire (FY 10)* On Sasha's first visit to Grand Teton National Park, she did what dogs love to do—sniff around. But Sasha, a 2-year-old black lab, had a purpose: she was looking for the ignition source of the 46-acre Cathedral Group Fire, which burned in the popular Boulder City climbing area in July 2010.

Remote Teton Subdivision Works on Fire Protection Plan (FY 10)* Teton Wilderness Ranches is an idyllic setting, surrounded by the Bridger-Teton National Forest, just a half mile east of Grand Teton National Park. While the views are amazing, the subdivision creates a wildland urban interface, surrounded by lodgepole forest and sagebrush, five miles from the nearest volunteer fire station in Moran, WY.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee

Managing Fire Safely and Cost-Effectively (FY 10)* On August 16th 2010, Great Smoky Mountains National Park Deputy Superintendant Kevin FitzGerald approved a new fire management plan for the park. This action culminated 18 months of development and planning activities aimed at increasing the flexibility of the park's response to wildland fire. The following afternoon, the plan was put into action as a lightning storm ignited the Calderwood Fire.

Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park, Hawai'i

National Park Service Aids Hawaii County Fire Departments (FY 10)* In mid-April 2010, park superintendent Cindy Orlando announced that Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park has successfully obtained $15,600 in funding from the Department of Interior's Rural Fire Assistance Program.

Heartland Inventory & Monitoring Network, Missouri

Playing With Fire(FY 10)* Working with students is a great way to instill an appreciation for the role fire plays in prairies and forests of the Midwest. When presented with the opportunity to develop a fire ecology workshop for students attending the Green Leadership Academy for Diverse Ecosystems (GLADE) at Missouri State University's Bull Shoals Field Station, Sherry Leis, a Fire Ecologist for the Heartland Inventory and Monitoring Network, jumped at the chance.

Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas

Picture Perfect Prescribed Fire (FY 10)* On March 18th and 19, 2010, Hot Springs National Park conducted a highly successful prescription burn in an old growth community of oak, hickory, and shortleaf pine that may be one of the oldest stands in the state of Arkansas.

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, Indiana

Park Fire Staff Assist with Research Project Funded by the Joint Fire Science Program (FY 10) During the 2009 and 2010 spring and fall fire seasons Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore (INDU) Fire Management was instrumental in helping USGS scientists burn research plots as part of a Joint Fire Science Program funded project. The project, "To Burn or Not to Burn Oriental Bittersweet: A Fire Manager's Conundrum", is a research project to help determine how the highly invasive vine, Oriental bittersweet reacts to fire.

Intermountain Regional Office, Colorado

"Celebration of Life" Held to Honor Len Dems, Intermountain Region Fire and Aviation Officer (FY 11) Hundreds of family, friends and co-workers from all across the country gathered on the gorgeous day of Thursday, December 9, 2010 for a memorial service and "Celebration of Life" to honor Len Dems, Fire Management Officer for the National Park Services' Intermountain Region. Len passed away on December 5 after a courageous battle against cancer.

Joshua Tree National Park, California

Firefighters Attack Lightning Fires in Park (FY 10)* Fire is a rare visitor to southern California's Mojave Desert. On August 26, 2010, lightning strikes generated by an intense storm cell ignited three small wildfires at Joshua Tree National Park. One of these fires, near the Keys View Overlook eventually burned 114 acres in desert brush and juniper habitat.

Kings Mountain National Military Park, South Carolina

Park Celebrates a Decade of Successful Fire Management (FY 10)* When he became Chief Ranger and collateral-duty Fire Management Officer at Kings Mountain National Military Park, Chris Revels saw the need for an active fire management program. Fire had been excluded since the park's authorization in 1931 and southern pine beetle had all but decimated the park's short leaf pine population, causing significant fuel loading.

Lake Chelan National Recreation Area, Washington

Hazard Fuel Reduction Treatments Prove Effective (FY 10)* Residents of and visitors to Stehekin, Washington saw an alarming sight when the Rainbow Bridge Fire, located just ½ mile from this remote community, was discovered at 4:45 pm on July 29, 2010. This lightning caused fire quickly grew from a few acres to several hundred acres and was highly visible for miles.

Lassen Volcanic National Park, California

Aviation Support for "Reach the Peak" Project (FY 10)* The fire management staff at Lassen Volcanic National Park organized a successful, accident-free, aviation operation to support the restoration and rehabilitation of the Lassen Peak Trail.

Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky

Mammoth Cave Staff Flies with Kentucky State Police in Search of Marijuana (FY 10) On August 26, 2010, Ranger David Alexander made the maiden voyage of a Mammoth Cave officer flying in the Kentucky State Police (KSP) helicopter as they searched for marijuana fields in and around Mammoth Cave National Park.

Hot Shots in Training; a Summer Camp Success (FY 10)* Could a 12 year-old be a Hot Shot? It was a reality at Mammoth Cave National Park's (MACA) first Hot Shots camp. For one week in July, ten young minds from Kentucky's Barren County Middle School (BCMS) got intensive "training" in the exciting and complex nature of fire and firefighting at a summer camp aptly named "Hot Shots."

Midwest Region, Nebraska

Missouri Area Park Group Fire Management Receives Midwest Regional Fuels Award (FY 10) The fire management staff of the Missouri Area Park Group, located at Ozark National Scenic Riverways in Van Buren, Missouri, have been named the winner of the 2009 Midwest Regional Fuels Award.

Mount Rushmore National Memorial, South Dakota

Reducing Fuel Loads around an American Icon: Project at Mount Rushmore Provides Multiple Benefits (FY 10)* An ambitious fuel reduction project began with a planning meeting at Mount Rushmore in February 2010. Prompted by an ongoing mountain pine beetle outbreak in the central Black Hills, staff at Mount Rushmore requested assistance from the NPS Midwest Regional Office to help prepare a plan to mitigate the impacts of a potential mountain pine beetle infestation.

Natchez Trace Parkway, Mississippi

Workshop Brings Together Firefighters and Park Rangers (FY 11)* On November 2, 3, and 4, 2010, thirty firefighters, park rangers, and public affairs officers gathered at Natchez Trace Parkway headquarters in Tupelo, Mississippi, to share success stories and tactics for educating the public about fire as an ecological process.

National Capital Region, Washington DC

Fun Learning with Future Wildland Firefighters (FY 10)* Who hasn't wanted to spray something with a fire hose? Turning on the siren in a fire truck is fun, and, playing dress-up rarely gets old. Around the parks of the Northeast and National Capital Regions youngsters got a little taste of wildland firefighting over the past three years. From the streets of New York City to the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, a good time was had by current and future firefighters.

New River Gorge National River, West Virginia

Planning + Response = Life Saved During Firefighter Fitness Test (FY 10)* People have died taking the fitness test for wildland firefighting. Bruce Miller, Fire Management Officer for New River Gorge National River, looked at the statistics and thought, "This is a planned event; maybe we can change that."

Northeast Region, Virginia

Fun Learning with Future Wildland Firefighters (FY 10)* Who hasn't wanted to spray something with a fire hose? Turning on the siren in a fire truck is fun, and, playing dress-up rarely gets old. Around the parks of the Northeast and National Capital Regions youngsters got a little taste of wildland firefighting over the past three years. From the streets of New York City to the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, a good time was had by current and future firefighters.

Smart Yard Care—New Handbook for Homeowners (FY 10)* Smart Yard Care—Big Rewards from Small Investments in Stewardship, takes a holistic look at landscaping and home life to promote Firewise practices.

Nord au Quebec—US Interagency Crew Helps in Canada (FY 10)* The Province of Quebec had a very busy summer fire season and the U.S. lent a hand, or, about 140 pairs of hands, in the form of seven fire crews.

10th Virginia Interagency Wildland Fire Academy (FY 10)* "This is the largest and most comprehensive training program we do," said State Forester of Virginia Carl Garrison. "With financial support provided by the National Park Service, we are able to bring together hundreds of paid and volunteer firefighters, who are already outstanding structural firefighters, and teach them everything from the basics of wildland firefighting to the use of chainsaws and fire plows to advance tactics and leadership."

Ozark National Scenic Riverways, Missouri

Volunteer Fire Departments Receive Rural Fire Assistance (FY 10)* Two volunteer fire departments (VFDs) that work cooperatively with the Missouri Park Group fire management staff, located at Ozark National Scenic Riverways, received grant funds in 2010 from the National Park Service for much-needed training and equipment.

Fire Aids Resource Management in Accomplishing Natural and Cultural Resource Goals (FY 10)* In March 2010 the fire management staff of the Missouri Park Group, located at Ozark National Scenic Riverways, helped the park's resource management staff accomplish a project to remove a nonnative invasive species and improve the historic viewshed of Alley Mill.

Missouri Area Park Group Fire Management Receives Midwest Regional Fuels Award (FY 10) The fire management staff of the Missouri Area Park Group, located at Ozark National Scenic Riverways in Van Buren, Missouri, have been named the winner of the 2009 Midwest Regional Fuels Award.

Point Reyes National Seashore, California

Recovery Act Fuel Reduction Creates Jobs, Improves Safety (FY 10)* In 2009-2010, S.F. Bay Area National Parks received funding from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act to accomplish several high priority fuel reduction projects. This economic stimulus program required federal agencies to choose projects that addressed the highest priority mission needs, created the largest number of jobs in the shortest period of time, and created lasting value for the American public.

Emergency Response Youth Corps Assists Parks, Develops Workforce (FY 10)* In 2010, several fire management projects provided valuable job experience for the Corps Respond program, through a longstanding partnership between the National Park Service and Conservation Corps Northbay (CCNB). Corps Respond is an AmeriCorps program, administered locally by CCNB, that focuses on developing skills and experience with disaster preparedness, including work on fuel breaks.

Redwood National Park, California

Fire Management Hosts Two NPS Youth Intern Program (YIP) Positions for 2010 Fire Season (FY 10)* Redwood National Park welcomed two Youth Intern Program (YIP) participants into its fire management program during the 2010 season. The two YIP interns, 18-year old Warren Bailey, and 19-year old Ricky Shaw, were fully integrated into Redwood's engine and fuels crews from June through October.

Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Rocky Mountain National Park Distributes Federal Funding To Local Volunteer Fire Departments (FY 10)* The National Park Service (NPS), through Rocky Mountain National Park, provided $27,000.00 in Rural Fire Assistance (RFA) funding to assist four local volunteer fire departments in 2010.

Saguaro National Park, Arizona

Fire Education Teacher-Ranger-Teacher (FY 10)* Saguaro National Park hosted a Fire Education Teacher-to-Ranger-to-Teacher during June and July 2010.

Alpine and Arrowhead Hotshots Work Together on Prescribed Fire (FY 10)* In late June 2010, the Arrowhead and Alpine Interagency Hotshot crews were both assigned to the Mica Mountain Prescribed Fire at Saguaro National Park.

Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, California

Park and Stakeholders Collaborate to Create Regional Plan (FY 10)* A federal grant in place through the California Fire Safe Council with a community in the Santa Monica Mountains has helped to create a Regional Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP). To help write the CWPP, a contract with "ForEverGreen Forestry" was established and the year-long collaboration process with NPS, state and local parks, local fire departments and the community began.

Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks, California

Counting Sheep: Interagency Partnership Returns Fire to Forest and Park Safely (FY 11)* The Sheep Fire was a lightning-ignited fire south of Cedar Grove in Kings Canyon National Park that spread onto the Sequoia National Forest. Close cooperation between the park and the forest helped return fire to this area in a unique year.

The Evolution of Fire Lookouts in the Sierra: Improved Fire Response through Partnership (FY 10)* Lookouts throughout the West are disappearing as the buildings fall into disrepair and modern technology can provide information about fire starts. However, an effort by the Buck Rock Foundation to keep a handful of lookouts in operation to assist national parks and forests has proven a viable model, even in a vast wilderness area where fires are often monitored instead of suppressed.

The Bobcat Prescribed Fire: Fire in Sequoias Provides Visitors an Educational Park Experience (FY 10)* Giant Forest in Sequoia National Park is a primary park destination. Completing a prescribed fire along the Crescent Meadow and Moro Rock roads was sure to fascinate visitors.

Parks Celebrate 50 Safe Years of Helitack (FY 10)* The parks held an event on June 12 that was attended by more than 30 alumni of the parks' aviation program dating back to the early 1960s.

The Wilsonia Fire Safe Community (FY 10)* Wilsonia, a private community within the boundary of Kings Canyon National Park, has embraced becoming a Fire Safe community; completing Community Wide Protection Plan (CWPP) that included evacuation plans and routes, initial response plans, and taking efforts to make Wilsonia properties fire safe.

Giant Sequoias Yield Longest Fire History (FY 10) California's western Sierra Nevada had more frequent fires between 800 AD and 1300 AD than at any time in the past 3,000 years, according to a new study based upon tree-ring research.

Southeast Region, AL, FL, GA, KY, LA, NC, PR, SC, TN, VI

Successful Spring Fire Season for Chattanooga Tanker Base (FY 10)* When spring fire season starts in the South, pilots, dispatchers, and crews turn to National Park Service Air Tanker Base Manager Doug Ivey and Assistant Air Tanker Base Manager Matt Derstine at the Chattanooga Airport.

WFMI Data Cleanup Improves Planning and Decision Process (FY 10)* The painstaking detective work of verifying and updating the Southeast Region's fire occurrence data found in the Wildland Fire Management Information Database (WFMI) is nearly complete. This process involved comparing fire reports, case incident reports, and local GIS data to WFMI data going back to 1970.

Tonto National Monument, Arizona

Park Supports Department with Rural Fire Assistance Grant (FY 10)* Tonto National Monument provided needed fire equipment to assist with both structural and wildland fire fighting in the form of a grant of $5000.00 to Tonto Basin Fire District in 2010.

Tumacácori National Historical Park, Arizona

Supporting a Higher Safety Standard for Chainsaw Training (FY 10) In February 2010, Tumacácori National Historical Park, Tubac Fire Department and the Coronado National Forest sponsored a S-212 chainsaw safety training course for interagency maintenance, resource management, and fire staff from various federal and local agencies in Arizona.

Voyageurs National Park, Minnesota

Park Works to Restore Mixed Pine Forests Using Mid-Summer Prescribed Fires (FY 10)* The fire program at Voyageurs National Park is working to restore and perpetuate the remaining pine stands using multiple mid-summer prescribed fires.

Wind Cave National Park, South Dakota

Largest Prescribed Fire in Park's History—A Huge Success (FY 11)* The largest prescribed fire in the history of Wind Cave National Park was completed October 20-21, 2010. The 3,450 acre American Elk unit was located primarily within forested communities of the park but also included mixed-grass prairie, prairie dog towns, and meadows where ponderosa pine had encroached.

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Short Course Helps Prepare Fire Information Officers (FY 10)* Staff at Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks teamed up to teach a half-day crash course in fire information for employees from both parks and neighboring forests. Twenty-four people took the course, which covered several key factors of fire information.

Logging Equipment in a National Park! (FY 10)* The project was intended to eliminate all burned tree hazards while creating the appearance of a burned forest with smaller stems still standing and the remainder cut and laid, resembling a fire-generated downfall or a blowdown event.

Yosemite National Park, California

Yosemite Restarts Prescribed Fire Program (FY 10) Following up on the Big Meadow Fire review and recommendations was vital to getting Yosemite's fire program back on track and succeeding in 2010.

*Indicates story supports the Department of the Interior initiatives.