Transportation and communication for the Minto Lakes Fire
FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - When it comes to working on a Type 1 fire, there are many moving parts and many people involved in the effort to fight the flames. The challenges presented by the complexity of such a blaze are only increased for the Minto Lakes Fire due to its rural setting.
Handling all of the materials for the fight is the supply unit. This unit is split into two subdivisions: one handling the ordering of supplies while the other manages receiving and distribution. As the supply unit leader, Mani Bouslaugh put it, the distribution team is a lot like “your Walmart at that point.”
The operation has seen many materials and people moved in and out of the various field camps around the fire, and to managing those shipments is the job of the ground support unit. That unit handles transportation of all things moving by ground or air which includes the boats on the Chatanika river and the buses taking the crews to and from the incident base. However, Alaska’s terrain has presented some serious challenges according Dave Trussel, the ground support unit leader. He said, “up here it’s really complicated,” and then went on to explain that when it comes to moving heavy equipment, the soft ground causes complications and the crews have to “be careful where [they] haul ‘em,. where [they] unload ‘em and then of course in Alaska where they run.”
The permafrost has been difficult for the Type 1 incident team from California to navigate. They talked about concerns such “sinking” dozers and other equipment. The sentiment is legitimate however as the team utilizes many tracked and four-wheel-drive vehicles.
Air support also plays a part in the operations. The communications unit steps into help coordinate those arrangements, along with keeping in touch with all the agencies involved with the fire. The communications unit leader, Kody Kerwin, explained that the unit coordinates with “local resources, local agencies on a daily basis.” If one agency is unable to provide support for any reason, it’s up to Kerwin’s unit to generate another arrangement with another agency.
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