Letter to the Editor

Thanks, fire personnel

To the editor: Last summer’s wildfires were among the worst Alaska has seen in decades. The skies filled with smoke, our main roads closed and neighborhoods evacuated. A total of 742 fires destroyed more than 2.5 million acres, which is about twice the size of Delaware.

From hotshot crews and smokejumpers to the firefighters and managers stationed at command centers — our emergency responders, including many good Samaritans from the Lower 48 — were working hard around the clock.

This summer I met with fire mangers to receive firefighting updates but also participated in after-action briefs where the discussion centered on best practices and lessons learned. We not only can learn from our experiences and put them to use in preparing for future fire seasons but we can also share that knowledge beyond our borders. And that’s exactly what we’re seeing right now.

I’m proud of the Alaska firefighters who made the 7,000-mile journey to help respond to the deadly Australia wildfires. To date, more than 28 people have died and more than 3,000 homes have been destroyed or damaged. These wildfires are the worst Australia has seen in decades, truly devastating the region, which is something that sounds all too familiar to Alaskans.

The reality is, Alaskans have a lot to offer. Alaska firefighters deployed to help fight and manage these wildfires spanning across millions of acres across the continent. They were put in a difficult situation because they know how to excel in a difficult situation. In addition to helping add to the manpower of the response, the expertise our Alaska firefighters bring to the table is unparalleled.

So thank you, Alaskans who answered the call to serve. You are using your experience and skills to help communities not just here at home but also across the globe, and that is something to be commended.

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