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.
Park Provides Mutual Aid in Two Major Wildfires
Everglades National Park
Department of the Interior story, Firefighting*
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. Various economic resources are located along this road, including several airboat operations and the Miccosukee tribal casino. The Miccosukee Reserved Area itself also borders the highway. Both the Prison Fire of May 29 and the Prairie Fire of June 7-12 threatened all these resources, as well as areas inside the park such as the Shark Valley Visitor Center and the Chekika Visitor Use Area.
On May 29, while on a fire mapping flight, Everglades National Park Helitack provided initial attack on a wildfire they discovered threatening the Everglades Correctional Institution. Unified command was established with Florida Division of Forestry, Miami Dade Fire Department and elements of both the Florida Department of Corrections and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Everglades firefighters coordinated two light helicopters, one county medium helicopter and one contracted single engine air tanker (SEAT.) By the end of the day, Everglades firefighters had helped achieve 100 percent containment at 10.5 acres of highly volatile melaleuca trees, a notoriously flammable invasive exotic species. One of the many structures threatened within the prison facility was an armory belonging to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security which contained a mixture of munitions and chemical agents, a potential hazard to both suppression crews and residents.
On June 7, Florida Department of Forestry requested an engine and a SEAT to assist in the rapidly growing Prairie Fire burning west of suburban Miami and north of Highway 41. This fire was also burning in highly flammable melaleuca stands and threatening structures. Strong northeast winds were pushing the fire directly toward the park boundary. The fire burned across Krome Avenue, the major north-south traffic artery in this area, and moved from melaleuca trees into a long-unburned area of sawgrass. Normally this area is the wettest location in the Everglades region, but because the usual seasonal rains are late this year, the fire was able to sprint across eight miles in an afternoon. Over the next five days, three NPS engines, two helicopters, and the SEAT were invaluable in helping protect the Highway 41 corridor and contain the fire east of L-67 canal, preventing it from moving west into Big Cypress National Preserve. On June 12, NPS resources were released with the fire contained at 67,977 acres.
Contact: Rick Anderson, Fire Management Officer
Phone: (305) 242-7853