Thursday, July 4, 2013

Independence Day Fire Watch

Our entire community remains under an evacuation watch due to the Stuart Creek Fire, burning only a few miles to the southeast.  I'm pretty confident that we won't be required to bug out, but if so we are prepared to do so on very short notice.

Fire perimeter map in relation to our community and Stardancer Base (Home).  Click for larger view.
The fire has thus far consumed 50,000 acres of mixed birch and spruce forest and has spread from military to State lands.  Over the past day the spread has been primarily to the southeast, away from populated areas.  That has given firefighters an opportunity to make preparations to protect structures in our community if necessary.  From conversations with friends and neighbors I've learned that in some areas of Pleasant Valley they have prepositioned pumps and hoses to wet down any structures that might be threatened, and they have been scouting and making plans to protect properties elsewhere in the community as well.

The most recent incident report available on-line reads as follows:

An Evacuation Watch, issued by the Fairbanks North Star Borough, remains in effect for those living in the area from Mile 14 to Mile 32 of the Chena Hot Springs Rd. An Evacuation Watch is an advisory intended to inform those living in the affected area of the possibility of an evacuation so they can make appropriate preparations. Those who need to evacuate livestock, sled dogs, and other animals can take them to the Tanana Valley Fairgrounds. The Stuart Creek fire, which has grown to 50,000 acres, began on military lands and spread to adjacent state lands. It is four miles from the Chena River. Growth Tuesday occurred to the south and east. Cooler temperatures, higher humidity and light winds should provide firefighters with some relief today. A Type 2 Incident Management Team has taken over management of fire operations and a Type 1 Team has been ordered. Smokejumpers, retardant tankers and military helicopters continue to attack the fire. In addition, crews have begun positioning pumps and hoses to protect structures ahead of the fire.

Basic Information

Incident TypeWildfire
Date of OriginWednesday June 19th, 2013 approx. 12:00 AM
Location25 miles E of North Pole, AK
Incident CommanderErik Duning

Current Situation

Total Personnel90
Size:  50,000 acres
Fuels Involved: Mixed hardwoods and black spruce


Planned ActionsThe Type 2 Incident Management Team has been briefed. Begin prepping structures for structure protection. Continue to protect military and community assets.
Growth PotentialExtreme
Terrain DifficultyExtreme

If necessary, we are as prepared to evacuate the place as we can be, given the resources at our immediate disposal.  The truck and small trailer are prepared to load up and transport all of the animals and supplies and equipment necessary to care for them in a camping situation.  We've made arrangements with friends outside the evacuation zone to camp on their land, which is easily and readily accessible.  Those things that either might be needed during an evacuation, or are irreplaceable, have been loaded into the car.  I can think of little else that we can do to prepare, so now we are in "wait and see what happens next" mode.

Yesterday's weather was very favorable for the fire fighters, with relatively cooler temperatures and little to no wind.  Today's forecast is calling for winds of 10 to 15 mph from the south, so that is less favorable but is not particularly extreme. 

Trish and I are both staying close to home.  Although we had tickets, we skipped going to a movie in town last night.  I'm hoping the theater management will understand the situation and let us use those tickets later in the week.  Trish used her time yesterday to unpack some of her stuff and collect some family treasures she had nearly forgotten about.  It was fun watching her face light up and hear her family stories as each new heirloom surfaced and I'm glad we were able to make space in the car for those personal treasures. 

I used some of the time to rid the dog yard of foxtails and just spend some time with the dogs.  They are all doing well and seem nearly oblivious to all the preparatory activity around the house.  That is as it should be. 

All of this has been an important reminder to update our evacuation plan.  It was originally written at a time when I had about half the number of dogs that now populate our kennel, and while most of it is still applicable, some is not.  I'm holding off on that project until we can get the newer trailer back, and build dog boxes to fit it.  It's ironic that the primary incentive for modifying that trailer is to prepare for exactly this sort of event.

Today is Independence Day, and even the threat of wildfire won't prevent us from enjoying our annual community picnic.  In fact, it may give us an opportunity to interact with express our gratitude to the firefighters who are helping us.  Each year I celebrate the holiday by re-reading the Declaration of Independence, remembering the intent of the document is to list the grievances explaining to the world why a relatively small population was willing to take on the strongest military power of it's day in all-out war. Today we have our own list of grievances, many of them similar to those of our ancestors. I hope we, the people of the United States, can resolve those issues without need for a similar war.

This morning I'll start my holiday as I start every day, by feeding, watering and cleaning up after the dogs.  Just one more cup of coffee should be sufficient for me to prepare for that task.  There is nothing like a hot cup of coffee to make my little part of the world feel right and proper.

Meanwhile, I'm wishing you all a very happy Independence Day.  Remember that all Nations are created as a result of their history, and that our actions today greatly influence the direction of that Nation in the future.

1 comment:

  1. I am sorry to hear about your fire dangers!

    I do hope you enjoyed your Independence Day!!