On Sunday afternoon, white smoke began to rise over the trees on Douglas Island near Lucky Me, a community about a mile from the end of the road that is only accessible by water.
Capital City Fire/Rescue responders contacted the U.S. Forest Service — which is responsible for the area — and USFS firefighters suppressed the fire. The fire was about 100 feet from a residential structure, according to USFS spokesperson Dru Fenster, and evacuation is not expected to be necessary. Strong winds were blowing the flames away from nearby houses.
The fire covered an area of about half an acre on City and Borough lands, and USFS firefighters were surrounding the area until about 11 p.m. Sunday. They extinguished stumps and logs and returned to the area Monday morning to continue securing the area, according to Fenster.
CCFR Chief Rich Etheridge said these kind of fires can be healthy for a forested area.
“Small grass and brush fires are not a bad thing,” Etheridge said. “They clean up the forest floors and reduce fuels for future fires. Not allowing some fires to burn has helped contribute to the fuel build up and massive fires we are seeing in the Lower 48.”
The USFS is responsible for responding to this area because of the 2015 Alaska Master Cooperative Wildland Fire Management and Stafford Act Response Agreement. The purpose of the agreement was to improve efficiency in addressing wildland fires and avoiding unnecessary duplication of two services such as USFS and CCFR. Each agency is responsible for defined areas, and Sunday’s fire is in an area designated for the USFS.
• Contact reporter Alex McCarthy at 523-2271 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @akmccarthy.