Alaska's military supports BLM firefighting efforts
July 12, 2013
FORT WAINWRIGHT, Alaska - Fort Wainwright Garrison has provided skilled personnel and equipment to help with Bureau of Land Management's ongoing activities of containing and extinguishing the Stuart Creek 2 fire.
The Directorate of Emergency Services has deployed firefighters, emergency medical technicians and law-enforcement officers, along with fire engines, brush trucks and ambulance in coordination with the Alaska Fire Service.
Mike Bonnell, chief of plans and operations for the Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security, said they have air-traffic controllers, airfield operators and personnel working around the clock to keep BLM and military aircraft moving safely to and from the site.
Personnel from the Army Community Service have been placed near the threatened communities, helping at the Weller Elementary School evacuation shelter and Pleasant Valley Store locations.
Betty McCain, Family Advocacy manager, said ACS was on hand providing assistance to evacuating families, contacting military Families and providing help to the Red Cross.
U.S. Army Alaska Aviation Task Force assets have also been deployed and have been working under direction of the BLM for water drops within the Stuart Creek 2 fire area.
Chief Warrant Officer 2 Charles Robertson, a Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 52nd Aviation Regiment CH-47F copilot, explained how military CH-47F Chinooks and UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters have provided fire suppression from the air. Large Bambi buckets are used and attached via tethers to the helicopters, allowing for filling and dumping of large amounts of water without landing.
Robertson said the buckets, which are carried by the CH-47F Chinooks, can hold nearly 2,000 gallons of water. As BLM aircraft survey and track the fire, the military helicopters are directed to specific drop sites. After dropping their loads on target, the helicopters then go to local water sources and refill for the next drop.
As aircraft were being used from above, USARAK Soldiers and personnel operating military assets such as bulldozers, graders, dump trucks and military Humvees were on the ground in direct support of the firefighting effort.
Firefighters and equipment from Fort Greely and Alaska Army National Guard UH-60s are also providing support.
Anyone who believes they have suffered loss as a result of the Army's possible wrongdoing may submit a claim to the U.S. Army Alaska legal office via their mailing address or call 353-6155 for more information. Send mail to:
U.S. Army Alaska Claims Office
Fort Wainwright Law Center
ATTN: APVR-WJA-AC (Claims)
1060 Gaffney Road #5700
Fort Wainwright, AK 99703-5700