The Extraordinary Case of the Funny River Fire

Fuel break as seen from the air

Fuel break as seen from the air

 

Not a single home was lost in 193,500 acres as the Funny River Fire raged our of control for 8 days.

 

Crews made significant progress after the first week as the winds died down and light rain began to fall.

 

But a number of factors contributed to the safety of local homes. Incident Commander Rob Allen describes how Funny River Road was saved…

 

Allen: “That big fuel break that was right along the Refuge boundary. The State put the fuel break in with money that they got from Fish & Wildlife from grant money that Fish & Wildlife got and it’s on CIRI and Borough land, so it was a real group effort of private and government agencies, federal and state, to get that line in. If that line wasn’t in there, we would have had to be building that line ourselves as fire was coming towards the Funny River community, and I don’t know that we would have had enough time to get a dozer line in there and get a hose in place to be able to fight fire there.”

 

Forester Hans Reinke spearheaded the fuel break project early in 2013, after the Shanta Creek fire…

 

Reinke: “It’s a linear feature, so it’s basically a line of 200 feet wide, in some places a little wider than that, but just as the name implies, a break in the fuel, that allows firefighters an opportunity to take action on either side. Gives you a toe-hold there in firefighting.”

 

One resident on Rabbit Run, “Tim,” stayed during the entire operations, as the flames leaped twice as high as the trees right along that fuel break. We spoke to him while standing at that fuel break…

 

Tim: “I mean, we got lucky in my opinion. I’m not an expert on it, but watching what the weather did, it blew away from us for a long time. If that wind, due to manpower and availability, machinery, everything else that needed to be in place to contain this, if it would have turned on us sooner this would have burned out. There’s no way that I can see that it could have been saved. This area right in front of us here was within ‘that far’ of gone.”

 

Reinke said the Division of Forestry continues to do fuels reduction around the Peninsula, and he was very pleased with how the break held up during this fire.

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