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University of Alaska researchers study lessons learned from the McKinley fire

Published: Oct. 16, 2020 at 7:39 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) -The summer of 2019 was an active season for wildfires. The Swan Lake, Caswell and McKinley fires consumed thousands of acres of land. The McKinley fire destroyed 52 homes, 3 commercial structures, 84 outbuildings and 3,288 acres of land.

Scientists with the University of Alaska system are working on a joint effort to study the impacts of the McKinley fire on both the environment and the residents that lost their properties. The project title is “Fire and Ice” and is part of a number of studies being conducted by Alaska Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research. Fire and Ice is aimed at helping communities better understand, predict, prevent and react to wildfires.

One of the tools the project uses to help in their education of communities is a film documenting the lessons learned from residents who were impacted by the McKinley fire. Researchers say the fire victims had varied advice but strongly suggested residents living in the wildland-urban interfaces have a plan to protect their homes and evacuate in the event of a disaster.

“Following the Fire Wise principals that the Division of Forestry has out there. In not only doing that, you also help there the firefighters get out there and do their jobs. Everyone had high praise for the firefighters. They were putting their lives on the line to save property and when residents cleared their property, it made it a lot easier and safer for firefighters to do their job,” says Jen Schmidt, a member of the Fire and Ice Alaska EPSCoR research team.

You can find a link to the full film here.

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