Fire Break a success story
Funny River Fire began on May 19 2014, just south of the Funny River Road on the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge this was a wind driven fire, on the night of May 25th strong south winds pushed the fire towards the community of Funny River. The community was saved by many brave firefighters who defended Funny River homes along a fuel break on the Refuge boundary south of town. This fuel break came about with the foresight and cooperation of the Refuge, the Alaska Division of Forestry Kenai-Kodiak Area Office, and (CIRI) Cook Inlet Regional, Inc.
Over the past decade, several large fires have burned on Refuge lands administered by the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). These fires are typically managed for resource objectives when they occur in “limited” fire management option areas of the Refuge. The fuel treatments that were completed in the fall and winter of 2012 and 2013 provided a buffer between the wildlands of the Refuge and the community of Funny River. Residents and fire managers previously identified these areas as high priority candidates for hazard fuel reductions treatments, during the development of community wildfire protection plans (CWPPs) for Funny River, Soldotna and Sterling.
Before the CIRI fuel break was completed, there was an old contingency line between the Refuge and private lands that was constructed during the Shanta Creek Fire in 2009. So, now combining the old contingency line and the new fuel break, there is a seven-mile-long barrier to wildfire.
After the fire, the people of Funny River raved to everyone that the fuel break helped save the community. It also offered a respite for firefighters, enabling them to be prepared to meet the fire again. The message the people of Funny River is there should be more fire breaks around Alaska; they work!
Fuel Breaks work from the residents of Funny River