Tri-Valley Volunteer Fire Chief Rob Graham and the trailer that will now be used to help with brush collection. Photo courtesy Rob Graham

Wildfire safety is on everyone’s mind these days and the Firewise program has never seemed more crucial. Firewise is a program that educates homeowners and communities on how to best protect their homes from wildfire.

The Tri-Valley Volunteer Fire Department in Healy is offering a helping hand. Funds from a grant to state Division of Forestry has provided a dump trailer to use for the local Firewise program.

If you cut brush around your house and collect it in a pile, you can then call the Tri-Valley Volunteer Fire Department at 683-2223. Schedule a time for the trailer to come to your house. Once it arrives, you can load the brush onto the trailer and volunteers with the fire department will then deliver it to the Healy Transfer Station.

Meanwhile, many residents are taking advantage of the Denali Borough’s free brush dumping program. There is no fee for dropping off brush at the Cantwell Transfer Station, Healy Transfer Station or the Denali Borough Landfill. At Cantwell, the deposit site is outside the fence so brush can be dropped off anytime. Users are not tied to hours of operation.

The borough will turn all the brush into wood chips sometime in August and those wood chips will be available to local residents for free, first-come, first-served.

These recent wildfires were a little too close for comfort. I know my neighbors in the Denali area were looking critically at their own homes and businesses and seeking ways to implement the Firewise program.

When I visited the Kobe Fire more than a week ago, the firefighter in charge of operations told me there should be no reason to lose a structure in a wildfire. When that happens, he said, it’s usually because the homeowner did not remove trees close to the home. That was a powerful message from someone on the front line of an active wildfire.

“Firefighters do not have the resources to defend every home during a wildfire,” according to the Firewise website. “When adequately prepared, a house can withstand a wildland fire without the intervention of the fire service.”

In addition, the website says, a house and its surrounding community can be both Firewise and compatible with the area’s ecosystem.

The latest posted update on the Kobe Fire, which is still being contained, states that “the fire was human caused but the specific cause remains under investigation.”

Music donation

A remarkable concert by musicians who have played over the years with jazz legends ended with them donating ticket proceeds from the show to local music programs in the Denali Borough and Nenana. That came to about $980.

The North Atlantic Jazz Alliance performed at Tonglen Lake Lodge on Friday to a standing room only crowd. Before the concert, they hooked up with the Musical Mudges. Candace Mudge is the music teacher for the Denali Borough School District. Her husband Darren Mudge is the music teacher at Nenana School. The Mudges provided a drum set, an upright bass and a bass amp. They also joined the group as performers — Candace on xylophone and Darren on guitar. Daughter Faith provided a bit of percussion as well.

The jazz musicians, who are also music educators, got a standing ovation. Thank you to Marshall Hawkins, who played bass with Miles Davis; Paul Kreibich, who played drums with Ray Charles; Markus Burger, who played piano with Kenny Wheller and Peter Erskine; James Linahon, who played trumpet with Frank Sinatra; and Jan von Klewitz, who is considered the finest alto sax musician in Germany. And of course — the Mudges, our local favorites.

Reach columnist/community editor Kris Capps at Call her at the office 459-7546. Follow her on Twitter @FDNMKris.

Community editor and columnist Kris Capps is a longtime resident of Fairbanks and Denali Park. Contact her at, in the office at 459-7546 or by cell at 322-6334. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMKris.