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.

Assateague Island Prescribed Burn

Phragmites are a spectacular exception to the “lighter fuels, lighter smoke” rule. NPS photo by Jonathan Chase.

Park Conducts First Prescribed Burns

Assateague Island National Seashore
National Fire Plan, Fuels Reduction*

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.

Assateague Island horses undisturbed by prescribed burn.

Flame lengths of up to 28-feet and dense black smoke are created by the burning of phragmites on this small island unit. NPS photo by Jonathan Chase.

Assateague Island horses undisturbed by prescribed burn.

Assateague Island National Seashore’s most famous residents appear unconcerned by the prescribed burn beyond them. NPS photo by Matt Mueller.

The prescribed burns will help to control the distribution and abundance of the exotic and highly invasive common reed or phragmites (Phragmites australis). Phragmites crowd out native plant species and reduce habitat values for marsh-dependent fish and wildlife. The fire treatments removed the above-ground remnants of phragmites infestations that were sprayed with herbicide. All this will facilitate the restoration of native coastal vegetation, providing nutrients and allowing light to reach the soil surface and providing greater opportunities for native seeds to grow.

Contact: Barb Stewart, Northeast and National Capital Regions, Fire Communication and Education Specialist
Phone: (434) 220-9065

*This story supports the Department of the Interior initiatives.