Gustavus Wildfire Response on July 6, 2009
Contact: Allison Banks, Public Information Officer, 907-697-2230
During a week of unusually warm dry weather, a 5-10 acre wildfire near the Gustavus Country Inn was reported to Gustavus Emergency Response. Sixty people from the Gustavus Volunteer Fire Department, Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, State of Alaska DOT and PF Gustavus Airport, 14 firefighters from the Tongass National Forest, and numerous local residents responded to the blaze that threatened many homes and property on the west side of town. Fire engines from the city, NPS, and Alaska DOT, privately owned tank and pumper trucks, heavy equipment, and a contracted Temsco helicopter/water drop bucket arrived to establish a fire line and prevent a spreading crown fire in tinder dry woodlands. By nightfall a perimeter was closed, with crews spending the night at the fire lines to watch for flare-ups.
As of 1:40 pm on July 7 the fire was considered contained. However, smoldering moss and duff, a continuing forecast for temperatures into the high 80s, north winds, and extremely low humidity will keep flare-ups possible for the next few days. Local residents formed a neighborhood watch and checked up on friends and homeowners near the fire. The USDA Tongass fire crew will spend at least one more night on the scene. Within 2 hours of the first call, local lodges and B&Bs brought boxes of drinks, sandwiches, and other comforts to firefighters.
So far, there have been no injuries to personnel, damage to homes or personal property, or loss of any equipment on scene. Naturally caused wildfires in the Glacier Bay area are rare, but there are occasional human caused fires in the Gustavus community.
Did You Know?
It was the inspiration of one man, Dr. William S. Cooper, an ecologist studying how plant life returns to land freshly revealed from beneath retreated glaciers, that lead to the establishment of Glacier Bay as a National Monument in 1925.