Delaware wildfire crew should return to the First State by Monday, July 22

Fire officials say that a team of 20 Delaware wildland firefighters who have spent almost two weeks battling the Stuart Creek 2 Fire – an 85,000-acre blaze burning near North Pole, Alaska – are tentatively scheduled to return to the First State by Monday, July 22.

According to the latest update from the Eastern Area Coordination Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin: “As of now, all eight crews (from the Eastern U.S.) will be flying out of Fairbanks on two jets on Sunday, July 21.  Tentative departure times are 1030/1130.  Arrival times in Harrisburg, PA will be approximately 2300 and 2400 EDT.  All crews/crew members will be going to the Harrisburg Mobilization Center for the night.  Due to the late arrival time, no one will be traveling home that night.  Transportation home should be scheduled for the morning of July 22.”

The Delaware team will report back to Blackbird State Forest, 502 Blackbird Forest Road, Smyrna, DE 19977, (302) 653-6505. Estimated time of arrival could be sometime around noon.

Thanks to the Delaware crew’s hard work  – as well as the support of hundreds of other personnel assigned to the Stuart Creek 2 Fire – conditions in Alaska have steadily improved over the past two weeks. Once assigned to a top-level “Type I Incident Management Team” due to the logistics and complexity of the blaze, the Alaska Interagency Coordination Center has taken over management of the incident in the past 24 hours and now reports that the fire is over 57 percent contained. Firefighters are now focused on constructing and holding the existing containment lines, looking out for sporadic spot fires and conducting “mop-up” operations.

According to the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho, the National Preparedness Level – an index of wildfire severity nationwide – remains at 3 on a 5-point scale.

For more information, contact Henry Poole, Delaware Forest Service, 302-698-4548 or henry.poole@delaware.gov.

 


Update on Delaware wildfire crew in Alaska

July 9, 2013: Update on the crew of 20 Delaware wildland firefighters in Alaska


The crew of 20 firefighters from Delaware are now part of over 730 personnel assigned to the Stuart Creek 2 Fire – a wildfire located about 25 miles east of the town of North Pole, Alaska which has grown to 82,274 acres and is now 15 percent contained.


According to the Eastern Area Coordination Center daily report:

“The crew is still in staging at the “Tirebase” spike camp. The crew from Delaware will join up with a crew from Maryland and possibly move to a new spike camp. The crews will focus on structure protection at the north end of the fire. Morale is high. Daytime temperatures have been in the seventies with nighttime temperatures in the fifties. Precipitation is forecasted for this evening with wind gusts at eighteen to twenty miles per hour.”

Photo of a Delaware crew member from the Fairbanks Daily “News-Miner” website.

Jon Stave of Newark in the Fairbanks Newsminer
Firefighter Jon Stave, of Newark, Del., pulls the rain fly over his tent as crews from Monangahela National Forest, W. Va., set up camp Monday evening, July 8, 2013, at the Pleasant Valley ball fields. (Photo credit: Sam Harrel/News-Miner)

Please credit photo to: Sam Harrel/News-Miner

Caption: Stuart Creek 2 Fire

Firefighter Jon Stave, of Newark, Del., pulls the rain fly over his tent as crews from Monangahela National Forest, W. Va., set up camp Monday evening, July 8, 2013, at the Pleasant Valley ball fields.

Current Situation

Total Personnel

734

Size

82,274 acres

Percent Contained

15%

Fire Behavior

Fire activity subsided with cool temperatures and light rain over the fire. Minimal spread is anticipated today.

Planned Actions

Significant progress was made in direct hand and doze line construction as weather moderated fire behavior. The current weather is providing the opportunity to aggressively attack the fire with direct fire line construction on the fire’s edge.

Growth Potential

Moderate

Terrain Difficulty

Extreme

Remarks

The wet weather pattern is expected to continue to around noon on Wednesday. However, a potential Red Flag weather pattern with high temperatures, very low humidity and strong northeast wind is forecast to begin Thursday and last into the weekend.

Current Weather

Temperature

 65 degrees

Humidity

50%

 

Regarding the cause of the fire, the Anchorage Daily News reported today:

“While residents praised the firefighters, some had harsher words for the U.S. Army, which started the blaze on June 25 during an artillery exercise.

Kent Slaughter, the Alaska Fire Service manager for the Bureau of Land Management, said the BLM had advised the Army not to conduct training that day. The fire, Slaughter added, may lead BLM to re-evaluate how the agency authorizes the Army to conduct live-fire training.

Alexander said community attitudes toward the Army were mixed, with some residents angry, and others who felt that the exercises were a forgivable mishap.”


Delaware sends 20-person crew to battle wildfire near North Pole, Alaska

Contact: John Petersen, Delaware Forest Service, 302-233-8180 (cell)

 

Back row (from left): Crew Boss Erich T. Burkentine of Milton, Andrew Douglas Rawlings of Newark, Patrick Gilchrist of Townsend, Robert Baldwin of Chestertown, MD, Tyler Torres of Smyrna, Jonathan E. Stave of Newark, William Seybold of Dover, Brian K. Ward of Houston, James Charney of Felton, and Nathaniel J. Sommers of Smyrna Front row: (from left), Brian McDonald of Bethany Beach, Chris Skrobot of Wilmington, Adam Keever of Port Penn, Nikki Testa of Wilmington, Jonathan Richardville of Claymont, Amber DeCarlo of Felton, Jennifer Decarlo of Felton, Guy Cooper of Millville, Todd Shaffer of Atglen, PA, and  Jeff Wilson of Clayton.
Back row (from left): Crew Boss Erich T. Burkentine of Milton, Andrew Douglas Rawlings of Newark, Patrick Gilchrist of Townsend, Robert Baldwin of Chestertown, MD, Tyler Torres of Smyrna, Jonathan E. Stave of Newark, William Seybold of Dover, Brian K. Ward of Houston, James Charney of Felton, and Nathaniel J. Sommers of Smyrna
Front row: (from left), Brian McDonald of Bethany Beach, Chris Skrobot of Wilmington, Adam Keever of Port Penn, Nikki Testa of Wilmington, Jonathan Richardville of Claymont, Amber DeCarlo of Felton, Jennifer Decarlo of Felton, Guy Cooper of Millville, Todd Shaffer of Atglen, PA, and Jeff Wilson of Clayton.

A crew of 20 wildland firefighters under the direction of the Delaware Forest Service that departed on Friday, July 5 from Blackbird State Forest in Smyrna has joined over 680 personnel working on the 65,000-acre Stuart Creek 2 fire, located 25 miles east of North Pole, Alaska. The blaze is only 5 percent contained and burning through a mix of hardwoods and black spruce. The crew is assigned to a “remote spike camp” and tasked with preparing their own meals from “fresh food boxes” issued by fire officials. Delaware’s firefighters are also making the adjustment to the long hours of daylight typical to an Alaskan summer. Their first operational day on the fire was scheduled to be Monday, July 8.

According to a Monday update from the Eastern Area Coordination Center EACC, “The crew is still in staging at the “Tirebase” spike camp. Morale is high. Daytime temperatures have been in the seventies with nighttime temperatures in the fifties. Precipitation is forecasted for this afternoon and evening.”

Crews typically serve 14 days on the fire line before traveling home.

The National Preparedness Level is now at 3 on a 5-point scale.

The latest fire information on Stuart Creek 2: http://www.inciweb.org/incident/3468/

Delaware’s Eastern Area Inter-Agency Resource Representative (IARR) Crew Report:
DES#1: http://gacc.nifc.gov/eacc/logistics/crews/crews_files/iarr_report.pdf

National Incident Management Situation Report: http://www.nifc.gov/nicc/sitreprt.pdf

Image of the 65,000-acre blaze burning near North Pole, Alaska.
Image of the 65,000-acre blaze burning near North Pole, Alaska.

Selected photos from crew mobilization at Blackbird State Forest:

From left, Mother and daughter Jennifer DeCarlo and Amber DeCarlo of Felton are part of the team of 20 firefighters from Delaware battling a 65,000-acre wildfire in Alaska.
(from left) Mother and daughter Jennifer DeCarlo and Amber DeCarlo of Felton are part of the team of 20 firefighters from Delaware now battling a 65,000-acre wildfire in Alaska.

Jeffrey Wilson of Clayton preps his gear for the trip to Alaska as his young son Jeff, daughter Olivia, and wife Theresa look on.
Jeffrey Wilson of Clayton preps his gear for the trip to Alaska as his young son Jeff, daughter Olivia, and wife Theresa look on.

 

(from left) Amber DeCarlo of Felton, Chris Skrobot of Wilmington, Andy "Doug" Rawlings of Newark, and Jim Charney of Felton as they departed from Blackbird State Forest for the trip to battle a wildfire near North Pole, Alaska.
(from left) Amber DeCarlo of Felton, Chris Skrobot of Wilmington, Andy “Doug” Rawlings of Newark, and Jim Charney of Felton get ready to depart from Blackbird State Forest for the trip to battle a wildfire near North Pole, Alaska.

(from left) Adam Keever of Port Penn, Brian McDonald of Bethany Beach, Patrick Gilchrist of Twonsend, and Nikki Testa of Wilmington loaded their gear on a bus before departing for a flight to Alaska to battle a 65,000-acre wildfire.
(from left) Adam Keever of Port Penn, Brian McDonald of Bethany Beach, Patrick Gilchrist of Townsend, and Nikki Testa of Wilmington loaded their gear on a bus before departing for a flight to Alaska to battle a 65,000-acre wildfire near the town of North Pole.

Jonathan Stave of Newark prepares his gear for a two-week assignment with a team of Delaware firefighters battling a 65,000-acre blaze near North Pole, Alaska.
Jonathan Stave of Newark prepares his gear for a two-week assignment with a team of Delaware firefighters battling a 65,000-acre blaze near North Pole, Alaska.