Several state and federal agencies plan to hold meetings around the Interior to share information with the public about fire management and the policies in place during this summer’s record-breaking fire season.
The meetings are an extension of the internal review process that agencies conduct following every fire season, according to a news release from the Department of Natural Resources.
The public will have a chance to become “involved and informed about the 2004 fire season and how wildland fires are managed in Alaska,” the release states.
During a season when fire burned across 6.5 million acres in Alaska, agencies drew public criticism for not fighting fires more aggressively before they developed into threats to communities.
The meetings will be held in Fairbanks, Eagle, Tok, Tanacross, Dot Lake, Northway, Delta Junction and Central beginning the first week of November. Specific dates, times and locations will be announced at a later date.
“There’s going to be quite a few (meetings) when we’re all done,” said Joe Stam, chief of aviation and fire for the Alaska Division of Forestry.
The meetings will be sponsored by the forestry division and an interagency group made up of fire and land managers from the Alaska Fire Service, U.S. Forest Service and Native organizations.
Despite predictions for normal fire season and a slow start, the 2004 season eclipsed the state’s previous record of 5 million acres burned in 1957.
A shower of some 17,000 lightning strikes on June 14 and 15 served as a catalyst for much of this year’s flames.
The lightning those two days caused some 50 fires, including the Boundary, Central and Taylor Complex fires, which threatened several Interior communities.
This summer saw a total of 681 fires ignite in Alaska, 422 from human actions and 259 from lightning.