FAIRBANKS—U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski asked the U.S. Army on Thursday to review the cause of the Stuart Creek 2 Fire and to report to Congress about future procedures for determining whether to hold weapons training on days with high risk of wildfire.
Murkowski, a member of the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, added language to the military budget expressing concern that the military held artillery training despite being advised of high fire danger from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, according to a news release from Murkowski’s office.
The language in the budget legislation directs the Army to report to congressional defense committees by April 2014.
The 85,000-acre Stuart Creek 2 Fire is “believed to have started” from a live-fire artillery exercise on June 19, Murkowski’s news release says. The Army and the Alaska Fire Service officially list the cause of the fire as still under investigation. Fort Wainwright Garrison commander Col. Ron Johnson told an audience of Two Rivers and Pleasant Valley residents in July that the Army exercises caused the fire.
Fire crews are now in mop-up mode for the 85,000-acre fire, which has cost more than $19.8 million to fight, according the Alaska Fire Service. The fire led to evacuations in the communities of Pleasant Valley and Two Rivers during a week of hot weather in July when winds drove the fire north.
Contact staff writer Sam Friedman at 459-7545. Follow him on Twitter: @FDNMcrime.