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.

Fire engine

Prescribed fire operations near Ogden Dunes Volunteer Fire Department station.

Indiana Dunes Fire Staff Finishes Prescribed Fire Season after 3rd Wettest Month on Record

Indiana—Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore

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. Fortunately, the cooler temperatures and wetter weather that delayed the burns was also delaying the vegetation’s normal spring growth patterns.

On Tuesday May 3rd 2011 the clouds parted and INDU Fire Management was ready. The two prescribed fire units remaining were important not only to the national lakeshore and the resource benefits that would be accomplished but also to the adjacent community of Ogden Dunes. In 1986 a wildfire was narrowly stopped at the rural town’s boundary averting what could have been a catastrophic event. Since that time prescribed fires have been conducted around the town to prevent another occurrence.

Fire operations.

Prescribed fire operations near Ogden Dunes Volunteer
Fire Department station.

Over the past few years INDU Fire Management and the Ogden Dunes Volunteer Fire Department (ODVFD) have worked together to burn private property in town as well as adjacent federal property to secure its boundaries. ODVFD has been the past recipient of the Rural Fire Assistant grants which enabled them to purchase wildland fire equipment and training materials that helped make this collaboration possible. A joint command structure was set up so that when burning on non-federal land the ODVFD was in charge and national lakeshore personnel lent assistance and as the fire transitioned to park service land a federal Burn Boss took over. The fire went seamlessly from federal to non-federal land and back again. The burn units along with the non-federal land have completely protected the town’s southern boundary from nearby railroad track fire starts.

The two burn units combined with the non-federal lands totaled 175 acres comprised mostly of oak woodlands, and oak savanna. In addition, three fire exclusion zones were installed in the interior of the units to protect two federally endangered species, the Karner blue butterfly and the Pitchers thistle. The entire area was completed within one day thanks to the close cooperation between the Ogden Dunes Fire Department and INDU Fire Management.

Firefighters regroup in parking lot.

A group of firefighters regroups in a parking area near
the prescribed fire.

Contact: Neal Mulconrey, Biological Science Tech. - Prescribed Fire
Phone: (219) 395-8420