To the editor: The large Shovel Creek wildfire, currently burning north of Fairbanks, is being managed by hundreds of dedicated professionals. In particular, the Alaska Fire Service, part of the federal Bureau of Land Management, uses data from weather satellites operated by the federal National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to track the development of hot spots and the spread and intensity of the fire. The data from these satellites gets to incident fire managers through a program at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, at the Geographic Information Network of Alaska. The state/university employees at GINA get the data to the Alaska Fire Service and the fire managers within 15 minutes of the polar-orbiting satellites going overhead instead of waiting for two to three hours through the normal channels. During active fires, that difference in time is critical.
I have a YouTube clip showing the incident commanders showing satellite data from the MODIS sensor. I won’t provide the link since I don’t have permission from them, but it’s clear the data are part of the tool set for them.
Programs such as these are outstanding examples of cooperative federal-state efforts to protect Alaska. Many similar programs are at risk of being lost due to Mike Dunleavy’s budget cuts.
Is a $3,000 PFD worth it if your house burns down?