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.

2012 Fire Stories by Park

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Acadia National Park, Maine

State of Maine, National Park Service, and Local Partnerships Provide Community Wildland Fire Protection (FY 12)* The fire management program at Acadia National Park partnered with the park cultural resources program to create a plan for a fire resistant landscape on Baker Island.

Alaska Region, Alaska

In a Time of Change: The Art of Fire Exhibit (FY 12)* Nine Alaskan artists unveiled works of art inspired by wildfire, fire management, and fire science at “In a Time of Change: The Art of Fire” exhibit which opened at the Bear Gallery, Alaska Centennial Center For the Arts, Fairbanks, Alaska August 3, 2012.

Big Cypress National Preserve, Florida

Big Cypress Firefighters Develop Successful Plan for Prioritizing and Treating Hazardous Fuels (FY 12)* For the 2011-2012 prescribed fire season, National Park Service wildland firefighters at Big Cypress National Preserve (BICY) developed a new plan to prioritize hazardous fuel reduction treatments through the application of prescribed fire.

Big Thicket National Preserve, Texas

ProRanger San Antonio Cadets Prepare for Wildland Fire (FY 12)* Big Thicket National Preserve hosted ProRanger San Antonio on March 12-14, 2012 for wildland firefighter training in the Piney Woods forests of East Texas.

Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area, Wyoming / Montana

Crew Performing Structure Assessments Responds to Wildfire (FY 12)* The Bandelier Fire Module was in the Tetons supporting severity staffing, when a fire broke out near Bighorn Canyon's boundary. The module served a dual purpose while in Bighorn Canyon.

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

Structure Assessments Conducted at Bryce Canyon (FY 12)* Intermountain Region wildland fire modules spent two weeks in May 2012 at Bryce Canyon National Park, where they participated in the annual Wildland Fire Module Conference and worked on a fuels project.

Canaveral National Seashore, Florida

Utilizing Prescribed Fire to Restore Habitat for Threatened Florida Scrub Jay (FY 12)* In July, 2012, the National Park Service, US Fish and Wildlfe Service and NASA collaborated to complete a prescribed burn in 1900 acres of jointly-managed coastal scrub and marsh. Objectives were to improve habitat for the scrub jay, indigo snake and beach mouse, and to reduce dangerous fuel loads near Canaveral National Seashore buildings and Kennedy Space Center facilities.

Cape Cod National Seashore, Massachusetts

Partnership Training Builds Community Wildland Fire Preparedness (FY 12)* In spring 2012, Cape Cod National Seashore fire management partnered with local area groups to offer basic wildland firefighter S-130/S-190 training.

Carlsbad Caverns National Park, New Mexico

Interagency Suppression of Horse Canyon Fire (FY 12)* The Horse Canyon Fire was discovered on Friday, June 29, 2012. Through efficient collaboration, the fire was contained at 7,287 acres on July 7.

Chickasaw National Recreation Area, Oklahoma

Prairie Restoration Continues (FY 12)* In March 2012, thirty nine firefighters from lands managed by the Department of the Interior came together at Chickasaw National Recreation Area to conduct prescribed burns in portions of the park.

Everglades National Park, Florida

Everglades Firefighters Use Prescribed Fire around Ernest Coe Visitor Center as Educational Opportunity (FY 12)* During the first week of January 2012, winter visitors enjoying the spectacular wildlife and natural beauty of the Everglades had the unique opportunity to get an up-close view of fire in the Everglades during the Headquarters prescribed fire treatment.

Fredricksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park, Virginia

Expanding Burn Windows through Growing Season Prescribed Fires (FY 12)* In September 2012, managers at Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park implemented a growing season prescribed fire project with the goal of restoring resiliency to a Civil War battlefield, a treasured landscape, while simultaneously restoring its cultural character and condition.

Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

Successful North Rim Prescribed Fires at Grand Canyon (FY 13)* In early November 2012, prescribed fires were ignited on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon Approximately 4,600 acres were treated overall.

Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Teton Interagency Fire Effects Crew Receives Regional USFS Award (FY 12) In June 2012, the Teton Interagency Fire Ecology/Fire Effects Program was honored by Regional Forester Harv Forsgren with the 2011 Forest Service Intermountain Region Fire and Fuels Award. 

Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site, Montana

Grant-Kohrs Begins Long-Awaited Prescribed Fire Project (FY 12)* In 2012, fire managers conducted the first four-acre burn in the flashy grass and decadent brush fuels of the riparian area along the river of Grant-Kohrs Ranch.

Collaboration Key During Grant Kohrs July 4 Fire Bust (FY 12)* During dry conditions, trains sometimes ignite fires, potentially posing a threat to both historic structures on the ranch and the town of Deer Lodge. On July 1, 2012, embers from a passing train's smokestack started two small fires, one on the north end of GRKO and the other right outside the park's boundary.

Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Texas

Efficient Response to El Capitan Fire (FY 12)* The lightning-ignited El Capitan Fire in Guadalupe Mountains National Park started on El Capitan Peak, near the historic Williams Ranch and Pine Springs, Texas.

Lake Meredith National Recreation Area, Texas

Lake Meredith NRA and Borger City Firefighters Assist in Hurricane Sandy Recovery Efforts (FY 12) In November 2012, six Borger City firefighters and two crew leaders from Lake Meredith NRA were part of a 20-person saw team removing hazardous trees from damaged National Park Service sites during Hurricane Sandy response.

Montezuma Castle National Monument, Arizona

Defensible Space Created at Arizona Parks (FY 12)* In 2011, the Zion Wildland Fire Module (WFM) conducted hazard assessments of park structures and infrastructure within Montezuma Castle, Montezuma Well and Tuzigoot National Monuments. In 2012, their work was followed up on with maintenance to the previous work and extending the fuel reduction to approximately 100 feet around buildings and infrastructure.

Natchez Trace Parkway, Mississippi

Natchez Trace Parkway Fire Management Staff Conducts Skype Outreach (FY 13) On Friday, December 7, 2012, Natchez Trace Parkway firefighters, Richard Carson, Andy Schnetzer, and Jennifer Ward presented a long distance classroom program to Hinchcliffe Elementary School in O'Fallon, Illinois.

National Interagency Fire Center, Idaho

National Park Service Communicates Cohesive Strategy to Stakeholders (FY 12)* On a daily basis, the National Park Service (NPS) Division of Fire and Aviation Management (FAM) works with interagency counterparts and other stakeholders to facilitate implementation of the National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy. The Cohesive Strategy (CS) is an ongoing effort by federal, tribal, state and local governments and non-government organizations to address growing wildfire challenges in the United States.

Ozark National Scenic Riverways, Missouri

Youth Intern Program Aids in the Conservation of Rare Fire-Dependent Wildflower (FY 12)* Using funds available through the 2011 Youth Intern Program, botany intern Abby Hyduke was hired to expand and oversee the tall larkspur study. Analysis of the 2011 post-burn data suggested that tall larkspur was benefiting from prescribed fire.

Partnership Expands Prescribed Fire Units for the Benefit of Rare Fire-Dependent Species (FY 12)* In 2012, the Missouri Area Park Group Fire Management staff at Ozark National Scenic Riverways (ONSR) initiated a partnership with the L-A-D Foundation for the purpose of managing several newly discovered populations of the nationally-rare tall larkspur (Delphinium exaltatum).

Community Wildfire Protection Plan Developed Collaboratively in the Ozarks (FY 12)* The fire management staff from the Missouri Area Park Group, located at Ozark National Scenic Riverways, worked with other agencies, local volunteer fire departments, and community leaders to help a local county develop a Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP) which was finalized in 2012.

Padre Island National Seashore, Texas

Efficient Response to 6 Mile Fire (FY 12)* The lightning-ignited 6 Mile Fire was detected in Padre Island National Seashore on July 14, 2012.

Pinnacles National Monument, California

Condor Program Gets Defensible Space (FY 12)* During summer 2012, the San Francisco Bay Area hazardous fuels crew completed a series of defensible space projects at Pinnacles National Monument, including in a more remote area of the park dedicated to research and the California Condor Recovery Program.

Point Reyes National Seashore, California

Mastication Increases Efficiency of Fire Road Maintenance (FY 12)* During February, 2012, an excavator mounted with a mastication drum treated a 1.3 mile segment of the Bayview Fire Road which is part of the Inverness Ridge Trail at Point Reyes National Seashore.

Bishop Pine Thinning Extends Limantour Fuel Break (FY 12)* During February, 2012, dense thickets of young Bishop pine were removed along Limantour Road in Point Reyes National Seashore between the Sky Trail and Bayview Trail parking areas. The trees were cleared and thinned for 30 feet on either side of the road under a cooperative agreement with a local conservation corps.

Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Fern Lake Fire Offers Challenges, Opportunities (FY 13)* From the first signs of smoke from the Fern Lake Fire in Rocky Mountain National Park on October 9, 2012, initial attack Incident Commander Paul Cerda knew a couple of key factors would drive the decisions on how to manage the fire. The fire was initially burning in steep terrain with heavy beetle killed timber and hazardous trees. Cerda knew that full suppression through direct attack would put firefighters at unnecessary risk.

Local Relationships Limit Woodland Heights Fire Damage(FY 12)* Rocky Mountain National Park has an excellent relationship with the local Estes Park Fire Department. It was this relationship that allowed for a rapid response, and working together limited the damage during the Woodland Heights Fire.

Pile Burning at Rocky Mountain National Park (FY 12)* The successful fuel reduction projects at Rocky Mountain involved burning a significant number of debris piles during the winter of 2011-2012 which treated 497 acres of hazardous fuels in high risk areas of the park adjacent to communities. A total of 5,681 large piles were burned as conditions allowed.

Saguaro National Park, Arizona

Wildland Fire Science in the Classroom (FY 12)* A May 2012 program for Tucson-area 8th graders included fire science and ecology, wildland fire management, prescribed fire, and fire careers. The outreach program taught students about the need to restore and maintain resilient landscapes, create fire-adapted communities, and effectively respond to wildfire. Afterward, students described what they had learned...

Assessing Wildfire Hazard (FY 12)* Saguaro National Park (NP) is supporting the development of a Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP) for Pima County, in southern Arizona. Initially, communities in Pima County were developing separate CWPPs to identify and mitigate hazardous fuels and to protect structures.

Volunteers Successfully Clear Large Patch of Buffelgrass (FY 12) In March 2012, a nearly four year quest to remove a massive infestation from the heart of the park came to an end with the clearing of buffelgrass in the Freeman area, thanks to community volunteers.

Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, California

Preparation for Southern California Fire Season Demonstrates Complexities and Importance of Cooperation (FY 12)* On June 12, 2012, the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation hosted the “opening of fire season” media event at Rancho Sierra Vista in Newbury Park, California.

Saratoga National Historical Park, New York

Hazardous Fuel Loading Reduced through Mechanical Operations (FY 12)* In August 2012, crews undertook a mechanical reduction project to remove hazardous fuels on 15 acres of land surrounding park structural complexes. The goal was to establish fire-adapted community conditions and reduce threats to park structures from future wildfires.

Expanding Burn Windows to Include Growing Season (FY 12)* In August 2012, managers at Saratoga National Historical Park implemented a growing season prescribed fire project to maintain and restore its Revolutionary War battlefield.

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, California

Lodge Prescribed Fire: Continuing Efforts to Keep Grant Grove a Fire-Adapted Human Community (FY 13)* In fall 2012, fire crews completed the 22-acre Lodge prescribed fire adjacent to the John Muir Lodge. The project provides critical fuels reduction next to the lodge and for the Grant Grove area as well as outstanding fire effects for benefit to the ecosystem.

Whitaker Prescribed Fire: A Story in Partnerships (FY 12)* The Whitaker prescribed fire, completed in June, 2012, was an interagency project completed in cooperation between the National Park Service and the Center for Forestry, part of UC Berkeley’s College of Natural Resources.

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. Located in Cedar Grove in Kings Canyon National Park, this project provided critical fuels reduction between two separate developed areas, National Park Service employee housing and the National Park Service stables.

Southeast Region

Southeast National Parks Train 165 New Wildland Firefighters (FY 12)* Between December 2011 and March 2012, the national parks of the Southeast Region trained 165 new wildland firefighters in S-130/190 courses at four separate units, including Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky, Kings Mountain National Military Park, South Carolina, Cumberland Island National Seashore, Georgia, and Everglades National Park, Florida.

Tumacácori National Historical Park, Arizona

Fuel Break Created at Historical Park (FY 12)* In 2012, Tumacácori National Historical Park completed a fuel break along the western boundary of the park. The project started in 2005 when Tumacácori National Historical Park staff, with the assistance of the Youth Conservation Corps and Youth Corps of Southern Arizona, began clearing a 10-meter wide fire break on the east side of and adjacent to the western boundary of the park

Tuzigoot National Monument, Arizona

Defensible Space Created at Arizona Parks (FY 12)* In 2011, the Zion Wildland Fire Module (WFM) conducted hazard assessments of park structures and infrastructure within Montezuma Castle, Montezuma Well and Tuzigoot National Monuments. In 2012, their work was followed up on with maintenance to the previous work and extending the fuel reduction to approximately 100 feet around buildings and infrastructure.

Yosemite National Park, California

Cascade Fire – Right Fire, Right Place, Right Time (FY 12)* A June 15th, 2012 storm started the Cascade fire, which would lightly burn for five months and become the right fire, the right place and right time.

*Indicates story supports the Department of the Interior initiatives.