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.

Upland pine forest 2 weeks after fire.

Upland pine forest at Congaree National Park two weeks after the wildfire of March 8, 2009. NPS photo by Theresa Yednock.

Fuels Reduction Program Reduces Wildfire Intensity

Congaree National Park
National Fire Plan, Fuels Reduction and Firefighting*

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. When it reached park property, the fire began creeping along the ground with average flame lengths of three inches. NPS firefighters quickly established a new firebreak and contained the fire at nineteen acres.

The fire’s slow rate of spread and low intensity behavior in Congaree National Park resulted from the NPS hazardous fuels reduction program. The NPS property affected by the wildfire has been treated with prescribed fire on a 2-4 year rotation by the Cumberland Gap Wildland Fire Module, with the most recent treatment by broadcast burn in October 2008. The fire management objectives of Congaree National Park are to promote natural succession patterns, maintain and improve habitat for the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker, and to reduce hazardous fuel accumulations to normal, natural levels.

This incident demonstrated the success of the NPS prescribed fire program in reducing hazardous fuel accumulations and lowering the risk of dangerous, fast-spreading wildfires.

Contact: Corinne Fenner, Park Ranger or Bill Hulslander, Fire Management Officer
Phone: (803) 776-4396

*This story supports Department of the Interior initiatives.