Alaska wildfire prompts concerns for community safety

Blog Post created by lisamariesinatra Employee on May 27, 2014

The Funny River Fire, in Alaska's Kenai Peninsula, south of Anchorage, has grown to nearly 160,000 acres as of yesterday, leading to mandatory evacuations and threatening cabins, vacation homes and year-round residences. The good news is, fire officials have no reports of injuries or structure damage. News reports also point to cooler temperatures and rain forecast for today and throughout the remaining part of the week, which should help containment efforts.

Michelle Weston, spokeswoman with the Alaska Interagency Management team reports that wildfires in Alaska’s remote areas are not unusual during the summer months. In fact, an average of a million acres burn each fire season. But according to The Weather Channel, while large wildfires are not unusual for Alaska, the state doesn’t normally see fires of this size so early in the season. It’s a conversation that all too many states are having this year – greater wildfire activity so early in the year being blamed in large part to prolonged drought and unseasonably warm temperatures.

For states like Alaska, Arizona and California that are seeing an uptick in wildfire activity to date, predictions continue to point to ongoing significant fire activity now through August. For residents living in these areas of high-wildfire risk, preparing ahead as much as possible is important in helping keep you, your home and property safe.

Still, we know it can be confusing to know what to do ahead of a wildfire or how to react when one is close to your area, but NFPA can help. To start, check out our “before, during and after” wildfire safety webpage, which provides a great overview of action steps. Print it out, share it with friends and family, and refer to it often throughout the summer.

Second, take a look at NFPA’s Firewise Communities Program resources that complement the "before, during and after" webpage and get into more depth. An example of these include:

* Firewise Tips Checklist for Homeowners

* Wildland fire safety tips document for residents

* Creating defensible space” webpage

In the same vein, evacuations during a wildfire event are often inevitable. But before you ever get that message to leave your home, NFPA suggests putting together your own emergency supplies kit and developing a family evacuation plan. Having a supplies kit and a plan in place goes a long way to helping you feel more safe, secure and comfortable.

Have questions? We want to help. So, feel free to contact us for more information. You can also visit the International Association of Fire Chief’s (IAFC) Ready, Set, Go! Program web page that outlines many of the same steps and provides additional resources (including information about evacuation) they have in place to help residents.