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.

2009 Fire Stories by Park

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Alaska Region—Eastern Area Fire Management, Alaska

Cabin Database Success in Alaska Parks (FY'09)* In order to catalog the approximately 700 structures scattered across 24 million acres, Eastern Area Fire Management (Yukon-Charley Rivers Preserve, Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve, and Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve) created a database...

Amistad National Recreation Area, Texas

NPS Provides RFA Grant to Local Fire Department (FY'09)* Amistad National Recreation Area (NRA) provided $2,000 in rural fire assistance (RFA) funding to the Val Verde County Rural Volunteer Fire Department (VVCRVFD) in 2009.

Appomattox Court House National Historical Park, Virginia

Smoke of a Different Kind (FY'09)* It wasn't the smoke of soldiers' campfires. On February 9, 2009, the smoke rising from Ferguson Field came from the park's first prescribed burn.

Assateague Island National Seashore, Maryland

Park Conducts First Prescribed Burns (FY'09)* Plans, preparations and personal protective equipment-clad people produced a fine, safe premiere for prescribed burning at Assateague Island National Seashore. Fire specialists safely treated a total of 220-acres in several units in March 2009.

Bandelier National Monument, New Mexico

Cooperative Approach to Managing Fire (FY'09)* The lighting-ignited San Miguel Fire started in early July 2009. From the beginning, Bandelier National Monument Superintendent Jason Lott and Santa Fe National Forest Supervisor Daniel Jiron agreed to work together to manage the fire for resource benefit as it progressed naturally from the Bandelier Wilderness into the Dome Wilderness on its western perimeter.

Fire Ecology Data Keeps Bandelier Fire Managers on Track (FY'09)* The park has been collecting data since 1992. A recent result of this data collection helped park managers decide not to implement a landscape-scale prescribed burn in Escobas Mesa area of the park.

Big Bend National Park, Texas

NPS Provides Local Department RFA Grant (FY'09)* Big Bend National Park provided $4,500 in rural fire assistance (RFA) funding to the Marathon Volunteer Fire Department (MVFD) in 2009.

Local Fire Department Receives RFA Grant from NPS (FY'09)* Big Bend National Park (BBNP) provided $11,500 in rural fire assistance (RFA) funding to the Terlingua Fire and EMS (TFEMS) in 2009.

Big Cypress National Preserve, Florida

Park Completes Third Year of Restoration Project (FY'09)* In 2009, Florida's Big Cypress National Preserve continued on course to restoring the historic fire return interval to a half-million acres of fire-dependent landscape.

Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area, Wyoming

Local Volunteer Fire Department Receives RFA Grant (FY'09)* The National Park Service, through Big Horn Canyon National Recreation Area, provided $6,300.00 in Rural Fire Assistance funding to the Big Horn County Fire Protection District #1.

Interagency Effort Removes Hazardous Fuels, Improves Habitat (FY'09)* An aggressive mastication project at Big Horn Canyon National Recreation Area (NRA) not only significantly reduced hazardous fuel loading, but also improved habitat for pheasant, white-tail deer, turkeys and other wildlife.

Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area, Tennesee, Kentucky

Big South Fork Launches Successful Landscape Burns (FY'09)* Over the course of two days in March, 2009 Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area successfully conducted two large, landscape scale burns totaling almost 6000 acres.

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Colorado

First Prescribed Fire in Park's History Implemented (FY'09)* After months of planning and preparation, the park staff's patience and hard work paid off with the successful implementation of their first ever prescribed fire.

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

Bryce Canyon Educational Outreach Programs Include Wildland Fire (FY'10) In October 2009, Bryce Canyon National Park hosted local area high school students who visited the park to learn about employment opportunities and other issues related to park management, including wildland fire.

Bryce Canyon Uses AM Radio System For Fire Education (FY'09)* While it true that a picture is worth a thousand words, it certainly doesn't hurt to have words with the picture so that people really understand what they are looking at. A good example of that was recently put to the test at Bryce Canyon National Park by their fire management staff when they decided to use a Highway Advisory Radio Systems (HARS) to broadcast their message about the largest prescribed fire in the park's history.

Congaree National Park, South Carolina

Fuels Reduction Program Reduces Wildfire Intensity (FY'09)* In March 2009, the South Carolina Division of Forestry informed the National Park Service (NPS) that a prescribed fire on private land adjacent to Congaree National Park had escaped onto the park's upland pine forest.

Coronado National Memorial, Arizona

Prescribed Fire Reduces Fuels around Park Structures (FY'09)* On May 27, 2009 Coronado National Memorial conducted a prescribed burn to reduce fuels around park headquarters, park housing, the visitor center and the picnic area. Objectives included reducing fine fuel loading and ladder fuels within the unit.

Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio

Park Provides Funding for Rural Fire Assistance (FY'10)* Cuyahoga Valley National Park announced a $2100.00 grant for Rural Fire Assistance (RFA) to the Bath Fire Department in Akron, Ohio.

Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, Pennsylvania, New Jersey

Repeater, Repeater (FY'09)* Protecting repeater sites is part of providing for effective communication during wildland fires and other emergencies. Contractors completed such a project on Mount Minsi in Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area in July 2009.

Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska

Communication Opens the Door for Successful Fire Management (FY'09) There are many useful tools available to assist fire managers in making decisions and managing fires, but oftentimes communication is the key to successfully managing a fire.

Devils Tower National Monument, Wyoming

Local Fire Department Receives Financial Assistance (FY'09)* Firefighters with the Crook County Volunteer Fire Department will have new personal protective equipment (PPE) during fires thanks to a Rural Fire Assistance Program grant of $19,216 received from Devils Tower National Monument in January 2009.

El Malpais National Monument, New Mexico

Park Completes Agua Fria Meadow Prescribed Fire (FY'10)* Crews from four NPS park units collaborated with a U.S. Forest Service Mount Taylor Ranger District engine crew to burn a total of 60 acres in support of fuels reduction goals established in the National Fire Plan.

Everglades National Park, Florida

Harney River Prescribed Fire Achieves Multiple Objectives (FY 09)* An hour and a half ride in two 18-foot boats introduced a class from the Prescribed Fire Training Center (PFTC) to fire in the Everglades on January 12, 2009.

Roadside Prescribed Burn Helps Firefighters Contain Wildfire (FY 09)* On May 25, 2009, a National Park Service (NPS) reconnaissance flight discovered a wildfire in the coastal prairies of Everglades National Park.

Park Hosts Media Workshop with Prescribed Burn (FY 10)* Everglades National Park hosted its first ever Fire Media Workshop in conjunction with the Shark Valley Loop prescribed fire on December 16, 2009.

Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument, Colorado

Park's Fuel Treatments Helps Contain the Fossil Beds Wildfire (FY 09)* In the world of fire management, it's often hard to measure the success of many of the mitigation projects that are completed, unless they are actually tested by wildfire. That was the case in March 2009 at Colorado's Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument...

Fort Davis National Historic Site, Texas

Local Fire Department Receives Rural Fire Assistance (FY 09)* The National Park Service (NPS), through Fort Davis National Historic Site, provided $4,000 in rural fire assistance (RFA) funding to the Fort Davis Volunteer Fire Department in August, 2009.

Fort Laramie National Historic Site, Wyoming

Local Volunteer Fire Department Receives RFA Grant (FY 09)* The National Park Service, through Fort Laramie National Historic Site, provided $3,765.00 in rural fire assistance funding to the Fort Laramie Volunteer Fire Department in 2009.

Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

Grand Opening of North Rim Emergency Services Facility (FY 09) The fourth of July is always a day to celebrate in this country, but this year at the Grand Canyon it held extra meaning as the park also celebrated the official opening of their new Emergency Services Facility (EMS) on the North Rim.

Four Grand Canyon National Park Lookout Towers have been listed on the National Historic Lookout Register (FY 09) Four historic fire lookout towers in Grand Canyon National Park, two on the North Rim and two on the South Rim, have been listed on the National Historic Lookout Register.

Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Homeowners, Firefighters Prepare Together for Wildfire Season (FY 09)* Despite inclement weather, firefighters and homeowners participated in the 11th annual All Fire Day training exercise June 6 at Star Valley Ranch, Wyoming.

Fire Smart Ads Reach Thousands of Teton County Residents (FY 09)* More than 13,000 readers of the free newspaper, the Jackson Hole Daily learned how to be more fire smart through a four-week ad campaign featuring a different ad each week that was sponsored by Teton Interagency Fire through a Firewise education grant.

SCA Volunteers Join Forces with Youth Conservation Program, Teton Fire to Make Community Safer (FY 09)* Two Student Conservation Association (SCA) volunteers spent the summer as Firewise education interns for Teton Interagency Fire, thanks to a Community Assistance grant.

Horseshoe Bend National Military Park, Alabama

Prescribed Fire Program and Partnership Begins Restoration of Native Longleaf Pine (FY 09)* Auburn University became an active partner in the park's prescribed fire activities and faculty members noted a scattering of native longleaf pine trees throughout the park. Treatment with prescribed fire has reduced duff layers in several areas to the point that some grass stage longleaf seedlings have been reintroduced.

Intermountain Regional Office, Colorado

2008 NPS Intermountain Region Fire Management Awards (FY 09) Len Dems, Intermountain Region Fire Management Officer presented the 2008 National Park Service Intermountain Region Fire Management Awards on January 28, 2009 during the Intermountain Region and Pacific West Region Fire Management Workshop in San Antonio, Texas.

2009 Pacific West and Intermountain Regions Fire Management Workshop: Developing Staff to Lead Changes in Fire Management (FY 09) The Pacific West and Intermountain Region held a three-day joint fire management workshop for more than 100 park level Fire Management Officers and Assistant Fire Management Officers in San Antonio, Texas during the last week of January.

Kings Mountain National Military Park, South Carolina

NPS Southeast Region Conducts Second Annual Fire Interpretation Workshop (FY 10)* On October 28 and 29, 2009, thirty interpreters, public affairs officers, and fire practitioners gathered at Kings Mountain National Military Park to exchange success stories, insights, and inspirations about how the National Park Service talks about fire.

Kobuk Valley National Park, Alaska

First Firewise Projects in Western Arctic Parklands, Alaska (FY 09)* During the summer of 2009, Western Area Fire Management completed two inaugural Firewise projects in Noatak National Preserve (NOAT) and Kobuk Valley National Park (KOVA).

Lassen Volcanic National Park, California

Loomis Prescribed Fire Project Continues (FY 09)* Lassen Volcanic National Park fire staff completed another unit of the Loomis Prescribed Fire Project on May 15, 2009.

Park Successfully Manages Fire for Multiple Objectives (FY 09)* On August 2, 2009 significant lightning activity occurred in the area of the park igniting the Fairfield Fire, which was managed for multiple objectives and used the Wildland Fire Decision Support System (WFDSS)...

Planning Ahead and Providing Training Opportunities (FY 09)* Lassen Volcanic National Park carefully monitored incoming weather and took advantage of a very small window of opportunity to complete the second unit of the Crescent Prescribed Fire project.

Lava Beds National Monument, California

Resource Sharing Leads to Prescribed Fire Success (FY'10)* Looking back at old project files, interagency and National Park Service resource sharing has been around since the beginning of prescribed fire at the Monument. The 2,094 acre Valentine prescribed fire, which took place in autumn 2009 was no exception.

Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado

Park Point Fire Lookout Placed on on the National Historic Fire Lookout Register (FY 09)* Originally built in 1939 by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), Park Point Lookout is located at the highest pointin the park at 8,572 feet. A dedication ceremony was held on June 10 to celebrate the completion of the restoration of Park Point Lookout and to also recognize its listing on the National Historic Lookout Register.

Midwest Region

North Dakota Area Park Group Fire Management Receives Midwest Regional Fuels Award (FY 09) The fire management staff of the North Dakota Area Park Group, located at Theodore Roosevelt National Park in Medora, North Dakota, have been named the winner of the 2008 Midwest Regional Fuels Award.

Fire Management and Cultural Resources Collaborate on Research Project (FY 09) Four years ago, archeologists from the Midwest Archeological Center (MWAC) and fire managers from the Midwest Region (MWR) initiated a research project to provide park managers with scientific data on fire effects to archeological resources within multiple distinct ecosystems throughout the region.

Mount Rushmore National Memorial, South Dakota

Old Growth Restoration Project at Park Guided by Research Funded by Joint Fire Science Program (FY 09)* In fall 2005, researchers began documenting changes in the historical fire regime and forest structure using tree-ring data from the past several centuries.

National Capital Region, District of Columbia

Target Acreage Safely Exceeded (FY 09)* Without accident or injury, National Park Service Northeast and National Capital Region parks achieved almost 130% of their targeted treatment acreage as of June 2009.

Noatak National Preserve, Alaska

First Firewise Projects in Western Arctic Parklands, Alaska (FY 09)* During the summer of 2009, Western Area Fire Management completed two inaugural Firewise projects in Noatak National Preserve (NOAT) and Kobuk Valley National Park (KOVA).

Northeast Region, Pennsylvania

Target Acreage Safely Exceeded (FY 09)* Without accident or injury, National Park Service Northeast and National Capital Region parks achieved almost 130% of their targeted treatment acreage as of June 2009.

Virginia Interagency Wildland Fire Academy (FY 09)* The 9th Virginia Interagency Wildland Fire Academy trained 265 volunteer and paid firefighters. They came from 70 departments across Virginia as well as state and federal agencies with wildland fire responsibilities.

Ozark National Scenic Riverways, Missouri

Nationally-rare Tall Larkspur Discovered in Burn Unit (FY 09)* During summer 2009, the National Park Service Ozark Highlands fire ecology crew discovered the largest population of the nationally-rare tall larkspur (Delphinium exaltatum) in a prescribed fire management unit anywhere.

Fire Helps Collared Lizards and Turkeys at Park (FY 09)* In 1994, the first landscape-scale burn was completed on Stegall Mountain and collared lizards immediately responded by colonizing several nearby glades.

Pecos National Historical Park, New Mexico

Fuels Reduction on Historic Pasture Lands (FY 09)* Pecos National Historical Park has undertaken an ambitious program of manual and mechanical treatments to reduce hazardous fuels and restore historic pasture lands.

Petersburg National Battlefield, Virginia

Petersburg Piles Burn as Planned (FY 09)* Fire specialists successfully burned over 65 piles of logs and brush at Petersburg National Battlefield in May and September 2009.

Pinnacles National Monument, California

Bottomlands Prescribed Fire, First Step toward Restoration (FY 09)* During the 2009 field season, the hazardous fuels crew for the San Francisco Bay Area National Parks completed the second phase of work on a 5-mile fuelbreak along the Bolinas Ridge fire road.

Point Reyes National Seashore, California

Bolinas Ridge Fuelbreak Uses Best Management Practices (FY 09)* During the 2009 field season, the hazardous fuels crew for the San Francisco Bay Area National Parks completed the second phase of work on a 5-mile fuelbreak along the Bolinas Ridge fire road.

Saguaro National Park, Arizona

Telegraph Fire (FY 09)* The lightning-ignited Telegraph Fire was discovered on July 18, 2009. Firefighters monitored the fire from the air and on the ground as it progressed naturally, clearing vegetation on the forest floor.

Invasive Grass Fuels Treatment in WUI (FY 09)* In 2009, the park hired a crew of three Student Conservation Association interns to treat buffelgrass along all roads within or bordering the Tucson Mountain District of the park.

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, California

Advantage in Timing: Cedar Bluffs Prescribed Fire (FY 09)* Fire managers in Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks seized an opportunity to complete a prescribed fire in Cedar Grove that provided safer control measures while also achieving key ecological goals.

Horse Fire—Wilderness Response to a Wilderness Fire (FY 10)* When the Horse Fire ignited by lightning on July 19, 2009, park staff saw an opportunity to manage this fire similar to 1930s era wildland fire. Instead of relying on the park helicopter for transport, firefighters hiked twenty miles round-trip to the fire near Hockett Meadows.

Walking Through Giant Forest with an Eye for the Next Generation (FY 10)* It is impossible to walk through the Giant Forest without being awestruck by the beauty of the great giants: General Sherman, McKinley, the Parker Group, and the many others people have come to know and love. Yet another wonder can be seen throughout the parks' sequoia groves. Whether walking through the East Fork Grove, Redwood Canyon Grove, or in a variety of locations in Giant Forest, with a trained and observant eye, you can spot crops and thickets of sequoia saplings and adolescents.

Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

Cooperating Departments Benefit from RFA (FY 08–FY 09)* Rural Fire Assistance (RFA) provided over $30,000 of equipment to departments that respond to wildland fire along with Shenandoah National Park in fiscal years 2008 and 2009.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota

North Dakota Area Park Group Fire Management Receives Midwest Regional Fuels Award (FY 09) The fire management staff of the North Dakota Area Park Group, located at Theodore Roosevelt National Park in Medora, North Dakota, have been named the winner of the 2008 Midwest Regional Fuels Award.

Whiskeytown National Recreation Area, California

Smokey Bear Celebrates his Birthday at Whiskeytown Junior Firefighter Program (FY 09) Smokey Bear made a special appearance on August 9, 2009 to celebrate his sixty-fifth birthday at the Whiskeytown Junior Firefighter program.

Whiskeytown Fire Management Builds First Fire Station (FY 09) Whiskeytown Fire Management has a brand new, state of the art, fire station to call home. The Whiskeytown Fire Station is located at the Oak Bottom recreation facility and is Whiskeytown's first dedicated fire station since its establishment in 1965.

Wind Cave National Park, South Dakota

An Analysis of Prescribed Fire Seasonality and the Role of Fire Ecology in Prescribed Fire Planning (FY 09) On September 4th and 5th, 2009, fire management staff at Wind Cave National Park completed the 631-acre Headquarters West prescribed fire adjacent to the park's visitor center.

Fire After Fire: A Successful Prescribed Fire Follows Wildfire (FY 09)* The Headquarters West prescribed fire project succeeded in reducing the fuels by more than 60% and reduced the threat of another high severity wildfire near the park headquarters.

Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska

Fire, an Infrequent Visitor, Comes to the Copper River Basin (FY 09) Two fires were recorded in 1915, and now, nearly a century later, the Chakina Fire is clearing out some of the mature vegetation and beginning the cycle of renewal needed for the boreal forest to thrive.

Community Meeting in McCarthy Paves Way to Sound Relationships (FY 09) On July 22, 2009, residents of the small Alaskan community of McCarthy gathered to meet with officials working on the Chakina Fire, a wildland fire ignited by lightning on July 2 and burning roughly 10 miles south of town.

Chakina Fire Provides Research Opportunity (FY 09) While the Chakina Fire was burning, fire personnel who study the effects of fire on the landscape, established fire plots in which ecologists monitor vegetation to determine the types of plant species and number of individual plants growing.

McCarthy Volunteer Firefighters: A Vital Part of the Community (FY 09) The Chakina Fire brought together the National Park Service and the Alaska State Division of Forestry, as well as local groups and individuals. Among these was the Kennecott/McCarthy Volunteer Fire Department (VFD).

Managing Wildfires with Ping Pong Balls (FY 09) In Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, ping pong balls have been used on the Chakina Fire to target pockets of unburned fuels and create a buffer along the Chitina River.

Keeping the Public Informed (FY 09) Information is a critical aspect to any fire. The people who are affected by the fire want to know about it and public information officers are there to help.

Chokosna Residents and Wrangell-St. Elias Create Firewise Zone (FY 09)* Wildland fire happens in Alaska. In fact, nearly three million acres burned across the state in 2009. As in the past, fire will again threaten some Alaskans' residences. Are they prepared? Jack and Susan Smith of Chokosna are ready.

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Arboriculture and Defensible Space: A Natural Partnership (FY 09)* In an effort to increase sensitivity to emotions relating to tree removal in national parks, build empathy for the defensible space concept, and create mutually beneficial scenarios melding cultural landscape preservation and defensible space creation objectives, the Yellowstone Fire Management Program entered into an informal partnership with the NPS Olmsted Center for Landscape Preservation based in Boston, Massachusetts.

Meeting the Utilization Challenge, Chipping Fuels in Yellowstone (FY 09)* One question facing fuels reduction programs is what is to do with the biomass produced?

Park Uses Horses for Defensible Space, Wilderness Value Projects (FY 09)* Among the most successful mitigation techniques has been the partnership arrangement with the park corral operations staff and program. They have accommodated fire management personnel by providing tack, transportation, stock and expert assistance in support of numerous wilderness, as well as front country projects.

Stretching Fuels Dollars and Equipment Life (FY 09)* Of the many challenges facing fire management professionals, finding adequate budget dollars to fuel a progressive and dynamic program may be the greatest. Yellowstone firefighters have taken the approach of giving new life and purpose to aging equipment as a partial solution to this situation.

The Right Thing Times Two (FY 09)* Every now and then goals and objectives align so that two much needed projects can be accomplished concurrently. Such an opportunity presented itself in the Fort Yellowstone Cemetery of Yellowstone National Park.

Arnica Fire: Cost Efficient and Resource Sensitive (FY 09)* In fall 2009, Yellowstone National Park managers had a variety of options open to them with the Arnica Fire, which grew to about 11,000 acres and approached a major park development.

Partners Create Defensible Space in Grant Village (FY 09)* The Grant Village project is the most ambitious of three projects to date, totaling 48 acres and involved twenty-one crewmembers.

Yosemite National Park, California

Community Cooperation for Fuel Reduction (FY 08 and'09)* Since the devestating A-Rock Fire in 1990, residents have worked closely with park fire managers to reduce hazard fuels and prevent future loss through a variety of projects including prescribed fire, mastication, property clearing, and proactive community planning, including developing a Community Wildfire Protection Plan.

Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve, Alaska

Eagle Community School, Annual Ecology Education Program (FY '09)* In 2009, the Alaska (AK) National Park Service (NPS) Fire Ecology Program conducted the 5th year of a field-based education program for the Eagle Community School in Eagle, Alaska. The program was established in 2004 when the town was threatened by wildfire.

Zion National Park, Utah

Zion Firefighters Receive Special Thanks for Their Efforts (FY '09) Wildland firefighters commonly put in long hours in harsh and dangerous conditions helping to manage fires on public and private lands. It is refreshing though when they are recognized for their efforts.

National Park Service Aids Rural Fire Departments (FY '09)* Wildland firefighters commonly put in long hours in harsh In 2009, Zion National Park provided $4,900 in rural fire assistance (RFA) funds to the Harmony Valley, Utah Rural Volunteer Fire Department and $8,700 in rural fire assistance (RFA) funds to the Kanarraville, Utah Rural Volunteer Fire Department.

Horse Fire Successfully Managed For Its Resource Benefits (FY '09)* Numerous wildfires that are successfully managed to provide benefits for our natural resources and help protect communities are overlooked by the press. A good example of one of these resource benefit fires was Zion National Park's Horse Fire in July/August 2009.

*Indicates story supports the Department of the Interior initiatives.