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.

2011 Fire Stories by Park

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Agate Fossil Beds National Monument, Nebraska

Midwest Parks Collaborate to Accomplish Prescribed Fire Goals (FY 11)* Managers and fire personnel from several Northern Great Plains area parks recently came together to conduct the Sheep Prescribed Fire and a second prescribed fire in Theodore Roosevelt's Longhorn Flats unit. After completing two prescribed fires at Theodore Roosevelt National Park, fire personnel traveled nine hours south to Agate Fossil Beds National Monument near Harrison, Nebraska to complete the third and final prescribed fire at the North Carnegie unit.

Alaska Region, Alaska

Daily Fire Weather Forecasts Go Digital (FY11)* Beginning in the spring of 2011, National Park Service (NPS) forecasters at the Alaska Interagency Coordination Center began issuing a daily podcast; approximately a ten minute recorded audio and video program that provides fire weather information for all of Alaska.

Bandelier National Monument, New Mexico

Prior Fuels Reduction Paid Off During Las Conchas Fire (FY 11)* The Las Conchas fire started when a tree fell onto a power line. Within two hours extremely flammable vegetation allowed the fire to grow quickly, pushed by strong winds, toward the east, and into the monument.

Big Cypress National Preserve, Florida

Fuels Treatment from Prescribed Fire Gives Firefighters Upper Hand in Fighting the Jarhead Fire (FY 11)* On April 27, 2011 firefighters from Big Cypress National Preserve responded to a wildfire located south of the Little Deer area, near the center of the preserve.

Big Thicket National Preserve, Texas

Minimizing Fireline Suppression Impacts to Park Resources (FY 11)* The Pipeline Road Fire started on private land on April 16, 2011, approximately 10 miles northeast of Kountze, Texas. Critical fire weather of low relative humidity and high winds resulted in extreme fire activity of crowning, torching and running. The fire burned actively through the night. A wind shift the following morning pushed the fire into Big Thicket National Preserve.

Carlsbad Caverns National Park, New Mexico

No Structures Destroyed During Loop Fire (FY 11)* On June 13, 2011 around 2:30 pm, a report came in about a fire on the Walnut Canyon Scenic Loop Road within Carlsbad Caverns National Park. Employees from Carlsbad Caverns, neighboring Guadalupe Mountains National Park, the local BLM district office, and Eddy County responded immediately in an attempt to contain the blaze.

Chickasaw National Recreation Area, Oklahoma

Prairie Restoration Underway (FY 11)* In February 2011, fire managers treated approximately 2,184 acres of Chickasaw National Recreation Area with prescribed fire. They were part of the final phase of a multi-month, $1.4-million American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) project to reduce eastern red cedar and restore native grasslands in the park.

Chiricahua National Memorial, Arizona

Minimizing Horseshoe Two Fire Impacts (FY 11)* On May 8, 2011, the human-caused Horseshoe Two Fire started on the east side of the Chiricahua Mountains near the community of Portal, Arizona.

Coronado National Memorial, Arizona

Fuels Reduction Minimizes Monument Fire Impacts (FY 11)* On June 12, 2011, at approximately 1:15 pm, the human-caused Monument Fire started within the Coronado National Memorial, rapidly burning through the grasslands. Nearly 100% of the park's acreage was burned to some extent.

Adaptive Management Experiment with a Non-Native, Invasive Grass (FY 11)* Approximately 15% of Coronado National Memorial is heavily infested with non-native Lehmann lovegrass. In June 2009, fire managers conducted a prescribed burn of about 35 acres in the Memorial. This was the most heavily-infested part of the Memorial, and directly adjacent to two private residences. In July and October, following monsoon rains, the post-emergent herbicide glyphosate was applied to 15 acres using backpack sprayers.

Cowpens National Battlefield, South Carolina

Prescribed Burns Restore Ecology and Historic Landscapes while Reducing Hazardous Fuels at Revolutionary War Battlefields (FY 11)* In February 2011, National Park Service firefighters from the Cumberland Gap and Great Smokies wildland fire modules joined staff from Kings Mountain and Cowpens to complete a total of 823 acres of prescribed fire treatments at these two historic battlefields.

Death Valley National Park, California

The Rehabilitation of Travertine Springs (FY 11)* On August 9, 2010, the Travertine Fire burned 22 acres of a lush desert oasis in Death Valley National Park. The Travertine Springs complex provides habitat to four rare plant species and nine endemic aquatic invertebrates. This habitat was particularly vulnerable to fire due to the invasion of non-native palm trees that had been introduced to nearby Furnace Creek over a century ago.

Denali National Park, Alaska

In a Time of Change: The Art of Fire (FY 11)* On a warm and sunny day in late July 2011, artists, fire ecologists, and Denali National Park and Preserve wildland fire and interpretive staff explored, studied, and artistically interpreted the 2002 Horseshoe Lake Fire near Denali National Park and Preserve headquarters.

Working with Winter Elements, Fire Management, Denali Kennels Staff and Sled Dogs Get the Job Done! (FY 11)* On February 11, 2011 park mushers and two dog sled teams transported staff to the backcountry cabin. For two days, fire employees ignited and monitored piles of woody debris.

Division of Fire and Aviation, United States

Wildland Fire Honor Guard Serves at 30th Anniversary of National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Weekend, October 15-16, 2011 (FY 12) The NPS Wildland Fire Honor Guard served with similar groups honoring the fallen and their families at the National Fallen Firefighter Memorial in Emmitsburg, Maryland on October 15 and 16, 2011.

El Malpais National Monument, New Mexico

Fire Education and Safety Outreach (FY 11)* On March 31, 2011 the fire management staff at El Malpais National Monument staffed a fire management station at Safety Day in Grants, New Mexico.

Everglades National Park, Florida

Park Manages Multiple Wildfires in the Wildland Urban Interface (FY 11)* On August 8th, 2011, Everglades National Park firefighters responded to a lightning-ignited fire near the northern boundary of the park. The 10,423-acre Afternoon Fire burned in long-unburned sawgrass adjacent to Highway US 41, a major transportation corridor, where private homes, businesses and airboat tour facilities are located.

Park Provides Mutual Aid in Two Major Wildfires (FY 11)* In late May and early June 2011, Everglades National Park firefighters provided significant mutual aid to Florida State Forestry and Miami Dade Fire Department in fighting two potentially catastrophic wildfires on US Highway 41, the northern park boundary.

Park Provides Mutual Aid and an Ecological Message (FY 11)* On March 4, 2011, Everglades National Park wildland fire engines responded to a mutual aid request from Florida Department of Forestry to assist in the suppression of a wildfire burning near Highway 41, Tamiami Trail.

31,000 Acre Prescribed Burn Reduces Hazardous Fuels, Fights Exotic Species (FY 11)* Like most prescribed burns, the River of Grass Northeast burn had multiple objectives.

Flagstaff Area Monuments, Arizona

Fuels Reduction Work Conducted at Flagstaff Area Monuments (FY 11)* On February 14, 2011, 108 acres of Firewise and Wildland Urban Interface thinning was completed at Walnut Canyon National Monument. In July 2011, the Saguaro Wildland Fire Module also assisted Walnut Canyon National Monument in thinning the area directly adjacent to the Visitor Center. The crew also worked at Sunset Crater National Monument, raking pine needles and moving dead and down brush away from NPS facilities.

Fort Davis National Historic Site, Texas

Protecting Historic Structures from the Rock House Fire (FY 11)* The Rock House Fire started Saturday, April 9, 2011, approximately 22 miles south of the park near Marfa, Texas, and burned rapidly north to Fort Davis, exhibiting extreme fire behavior and reaching the park within four to five hours.

Gateway National Recreation Area, New York / New Jersey

Staten Island Begins 1st Phase of NYC's First Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP) (FY 11)* Staten Island Borough President James P. Molinaro announced the start of the Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP) process at a press conference held Tuesday, May 24, 2011.

FDNY and NPS Train Together (FY 11)* On November 17, 2010, history was made when National Park Service firefighters were invited to participate in the 2010 New York City Fire Department Battalion Chief training class.

Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument, New Mexico

Fuels Reduction Helps Protect Cliff Dwellings (FY 11)* The 88,835 acre Miller Fire started on April 28th, 2011 on the Gila National Forest, approximately six miles south of Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument. Early on, firefighters began planning and developing contingency lines around the Gila Cliff Dwellings and the small town of Gila Hotsprings.

Golden Gate National Recreation Area, California

Permits Reduce Hazards across the Property Line (FY 11)* Golden Gate National Recreation Area shares a 40-mile interface with developed lands in Marin, San Francisco and San Mateo counties.

Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

Grand Canyon Receives Regional Fuels & Ecology Award (FY 11)* On July 29, 2011, Jasper Peach, Assistant Lead Fire Effects Monitor, and Jennifer Peach, a volunteer for the Environmental Education Branch at Grand Canyon National Park, were awarded a National Park Service (NPS) Intermountain Regional Fuels & Ecology Award for developing a Grand Canyon-specific fire ecology curriculum for use by educators as part of their science curriculum.

Mechanical Fuels Reduction at Grand Canyon (FY 11)* Fire crews on the South Rim have completed several mechanical projects in 2011 including the 31-acre Market Plaza Thinning Unit in the Market Plaza area, 48 acres in the School Thinning Unit near the Grand Canyon School, and the 13-acre Hopi Tower Thinning Unit surrounding the historic Hopi Point communications/lookout tower.

Grand Canyon Develops Fire Ecology Curriculum (FY 11)* During the spring of 2010, Jasper Peach, Grand Canyon National Park (GCNP) Assistant Fire Effects Lead, and Jenn Peach, volunteer for Grand Canyon's Environmental Education program, collaborated with Grand Canyon Environmental Education staff and volunteers on researching fire education programs and developing a Grand Canyon-specific fire ecology curriculum.

Fire and Aviation Staff Host Australian Park Managers (FY 11)* In July 2011, staff from Grand Canyon National Park's Branch of Fire and Aviation hosted two park managers from Australia's New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service. The park managers, Catherine Mardell and Eric Claussen, are traveling the U.S. and Canada as part of a Churchill Fellowship study tour to learn about methods of fire and fuel management and measurement.

Lower Fire Managed Across Boundary as an Interagency Incident (FY 11)* The lightning-caused Lower Fire was discovered in Grand Canyon National Park on August 19, 2011.

Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Providing for Firefighter Safety through Interagency Aviation Success (FY 11)* One of the key points of the Dutch Creek accident investigation was we need to do a better job providing timely medical response to firefighters on remote wildland fires.

Bringing Fire Back into the Ecosystem (FY 11)* Fire management in Grand Teton National Park took an important step toward re-introducing fire to the ecosystem when they completed the 84-acre Phelps Moraine Prescribed Fire on Oct. 2, 2011.

Multi-year Project Culminates in Safer Community (FY 11)* Teton Interagency fire crews this fall completed a multi-year project to help Shadow Mountain become a more Fire-Adapted Community.

Grant Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site, Montana

Interagency Collaboration Helps Fuels Programs Thrive (FY 11)* For small rural parks like Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site and Big Hole National Battlefield, fire management is often just one of the many programs the limited staff juggles. The bulk of the fire management planning and implementation comes from a larger park, in this case Glacier National Park.

Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, Colorado

Park Receives Cultural Preservation Award (FY 11)* On Thursday, May 12, 2011, Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve was honored by Colorado Preservation Inc, the largest historic preservation organization in Colorado, for the role firefighters played in the protection of "Indian Grove," a group of 72 culturally modified ponderosa pine trees that were at risk during the 2010 Medano Fire.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee

Annual Cades Cove Burn Maintains Cultural Landscape, Promotes Native Species (FY 11)* At Great Smoky Mountains National Park, autumn means turning leaves and prescribed burning in Cades Cove, one of the park's most popular areas. On November 1, 2, and 8, 2011, firefighters conducted a 500-acre prescribed burn, treating approximately a third of the Cove's entire burnable acres.

Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, Hawai‘i

Napau Fire Burned Area Rehabilitation (FY 11)* In spring 2011, the lava-ignited Napau Fire burned 2,076 acres in Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park. Besides burnt vegetation, extensive damage occurred to a one mile section of galvanized steel hogwire fence that protected 2,750 acres of lush ‘Ohi‘a rainforest from the harmful effects of introduced feral pigs.

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, Indiana

Park Hosts Botany Training – Increasing Skills, Efficiency and Partnerships (FY 11) How does one quickly train new seasonal employees with the knowledge needed to ‚??hit the plots running‚?? and complete a heavy sampling schedule with the utmost accuracy and efficiency? The INDU Fire Effects Program has found a way to reduce the learning curve by initiating a specialized botany training.

Indiana Dunes Fire Staff Finishes Prescribed Fire Season after 3rd Wettest Month on Record (FY 11) The third wettest April on record, and the wettest since 1957, along with cooler temperatures caused Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore (INDU) Fire Management staff to question whether they would get any more prescribed fires done for the spring season.

Joshua Tree National Park, California

Keys View Fire Rehabilitation (FY 11)* In August, 2010, a 114-acre fire burned in Joshua Tree National Park adjacent to a popular visitor site called Keys View. Immediately following the blaze, staff from the park's resource management division assessed damage and initiated a recovery program.

Kings Mountain National Military Park, South Carolina

Prescribed Burns Restore Ecology and Historic Landscapes while Reducing Hazardous Fuels at Revolutionary War Battlefields (FY 11)* In February 2011, National Park Service firefighters from the Cumberland Gap and Great Smokies wildland fire modules joined staff from Kings Mountain and Cowpens to complete a total of 823 acres of prescribed fire treatments at these two historic battlefields.

Lake Meredith National Recreation Area, Texas

Lake Meredith NRA Assists Communities during Extreme Drought (FY 11)* The drought of 2011 has been an unprecedented event in Texas. Lake Meredith National Recreation Area (NRA) responded to this event by requesting fire severity funds for extraordinary preparedness activities due to the abnormal increase in fire potential, beginning in April 2011.

Lassen Volcanic National Park, California

Successful S-203 Introduction to Incident Information Class in Susanville, CA (FY 11)* A veteran interagency cadre was reunited under a new course coordinator, Jennifer Chapman, Fire Communication and Education Specialist from Point Reyes National Seashore.

Lassen Volcanic National Park Completes Successful Summertown Prescribed Fire (FY 11)* Lassen Volcanic National Park fire management staff completed the Summertown prescribed burn project treating approximately 360 acres on October 27-28, 2011.

Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky

Mammoth Cave Delivers New Truck to Park City VFD (FY 11)* On March 25, 2011, Mammoth Cave National Park ranger staff delivered a new fire truck, Mammoth Cave 101, to the Park City, Ky., Volunteer Fire Department where it will be housed for use in the park and the community.

Mississippi National River & Recreation Area, Minnesota

Interagency Partnerships Promote Effective Fire Effects Monitoring (FY 11)* The Fire and Fuels Working Group of the Minnesota Interagency Command System (MNICS) initiated a fire effects monitoring training program to help area practitioners implement effective monitoring programs.

Natchez Trace Parkway, Mississippi / Tennessee

NPS, Partners Treat 1,033 Acres along Natchez Trace (FY 11)* From Feb. 14 to March 8, 2011, firefighters from Natchez Trace Parkway cooperated with multiple partners to complete over 1,000 acres of prescribed burns in two states, covering 400 miles of highway in the process.

Northeast Regional Office, Virginia

11th Virginia Interagency Wildland Fire Academy (FY 11)* More than 300 firefighters from Virginia and neighboring states took part in a variety of courses designed to better prepare them for the challenges and dangers associated with suppressing wildfires.

Ozark National Scenic Riverway, Missouri

Park Provides Wildland Fire Training to Local Volunteer Firefighters (FY 11)* In 2011, the fire management staff from the Missouri Area Park Group, located at Ozark National Scenic Riverways, worked to help local communities improve their ability to deal with wildfires. Efforts were taken to strengthen the partnerships with local volunteer fire departments (VFDs) that provide structural and wildland fire support for Ozark National Scenic Riverways.

Point Reyes National Seashore, California

Research Improves Understanding of Critical Forest Health Problem (FY 11)* Research partnerships are proving essential for Point Reyes National Seashore to better understand the effects of Sudden Oak Death in different ecosystems.

Saint Croix National Scenic Riverway, Wisconsin

Park Completes Residential Fuel Reduction Treatment Project (FY 11)* Managers at St. Croix National Scenic Riverway are all too familiar with the issue of invasive species. Several tallgrass prairies and oak savannas at the Riverway are slated for restoration and all have invasive species issues to some extent.

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, California

Nature Trail Prescribed Fire: Successful Implementation through Adapting and Timing (FY 12)* The Nature Trail prescribed fire, completed in the late fall of 2011, was a particularly satisfying project for fire management employees in the parks.

Protecting Natural and Cultural Resources on the Lion Fire (FY 11)* The Lion Fire started July 8, 2011 by lightning on the Sequoia National Forest. As the fire grew, the containment line included a small area in the southern part of Sequoia National Park. This segment of the park near Quinn Peak and Soda Butte provided challenges for firefighters because of several natural and cultural resource concerns that included the Little Kern golden trout, foxtail pine, and the Quinn Patrol Cabin.

Arrowhead Interagency Hotshots Celebrate 30 Years of Service In 1981, the National Park Service decided to organize several wildland fire suppression crews (later to be referred to as "hotshots"). Previously, the NPS largely depended on loosely organized local crews or other agencies to respond to fires on their lands.

The Littlest Sequoias: The Bobcat Prescribed Fire a Year Later (FY 11)* The 97-acre Bobcat Prescribed Fire was completed in June, 2010. Walking through the area today provides an exciting highlight. Sequoia seedlings can be found throughout the forest for those with a trained and observant eye.

Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

Training for Resource Advisors Enhances Resource Protection during Incidents (FY 11) In April 2011, fifty-three people completed the Incident Resource Advisor Training hosted by Shenandoah National Park in Luray, Virginia. The course gave participants the background to serve as Resource Advisors (READs) during wildland fires and all hazard incidents.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota

Midwest Parks Collaborate to Accomplish Prescribed Fire Goals (FY 11)* Managers and fire personnel from several Northern Great Plains area parks recently came together to conduct the Sheep Prescribed Fire and a second prescribed fire in Theodore Roosevelt's Longhorn Flats unit. After completing two prescribed fires at Theodore Roosevelt National Park, fire personnel traveled nine hours south to Agate Fossil Beds National Monument near Harrison, Nebraska to complete the third and final prescribed fire at the North Carnegie unit.

Whiskeytown National Recreation Area, California

East Boundary Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) Prescribed Fire Project* (FY 11) Beginning on October 4th, 2011 the NPS Whiskeytown National Recreation Area (NRA) resumed fall prescribed under burn treatments within the East Boundary Project on the Shasta Divide Ridge at the eastern boundary of the park.

White Sands National Monument, New Mexico

Two Lost Hikers Rescued Through Interagency SAR (FY 11) Early on the morning of August 15th, rangers received a report of two hikers who had been lost within the sand dunes overnight. They had planned on camping overnight on Sunday, but became disoriented while returning to their backcountry camp site.

Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve, Alaska

Alaskans Create Fire Break to Protect Community of McCarthy (FY 11)* While the memory of the 2009 Chakina Fire was still fresh for residents of the community of McCarthy, Alaska, the National Park Service (NPS) worked with partner agencies and the community to create a buffer between burnable vegetation in the park and the town of McCarthy.

Exploring Fuels Treatment and Wildfire Impacts in Alaska (FY 11)* What happens to an Alaskan forest when fire management conducts a thinning project? What happens when a forest is burned multiple times by wildfire in a short time period? The goal of the Alaska Region Fire Ecology Program is to delve into these questions and provide adaptive management feedback to fire and land managers. Five fire ecology projects provide good examples of the breadth and depth of a safe, productive, and successful 2011 field season which was focused on trying to answer the above questions.

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Specialized Helicopter Rescue Skills Prove Valuable, 2011 (FY 11)* When the Flathead National Forest requested Yellowstone National Park's helicopter, Lama 230 US, and crew of six on August 9, 2011, it was a standard helicopter order to help the forest deal with a number of new fire starts. What the forest got, though, was the added bonus of a helicopter and crew prepared for short-haul extrication, which proved invaluable the first day on assignment.

Yosemite National Park, California

Joint Information Center Operation during the Motor Fire (FY 11)* Early in the afternoon of August 25th, 2011, a typical hot, busy day in Yosemite National Park, a call came to the park dispatch center. A recreational vehicle, leaving the park on Highway 140 was on fire.

Early Detection of Highly Invasive Non-Native Plants after Big Meadow Fire (FY 11)* Foresta ia a private inholder community enclosed completely within Yosemite National Park. As a result of a wildfire several years ago, Foresta is now surrounded by charred chaparral and towering pine snags.

Yosemite National Park Prescribed Fire Projects for Summer, 2011 (FY 11) In May 2011, as seasonal firefighters are arriving and filling out the rosters of the Yosemite National Park's fire crews, fire managers continue to plan for the coming fire season.

Yukon–Charley Rivers National Preserve, Alaska

Youth Study Succession after Fire and Flood (FY 11)* In early September 2011, the Alaska National Park Service (NPS) Fire Ecology Program and Yukon–Charley Rivers National Preserve interpretive staff held the 7th annual field-based education program for Eagle Community youth. Twelve students ranging from 5th through 12th grade joined the fun.

*Indicates story supports the Department of the Interior initiatives.