Army Backs Away From Stuart Creek 2 Wildfire Statements

The Army says Fort Wainwright Garrison commander Colonel Ron Johnson might have been overstating it when he told residents of Pleasant Valley and Two Rivers last Saturday night that artillery training exercises had started the Stuart Creek Two wildfire.

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All questions are now being referred to Major Alan Brown in Anchorage, Army Alaska Public Affairs Chief.

“Right now, our position is we can’t make an official determination on exactly what caused it,” Brown said. “Are there indications that this fire was directly related to our artillery training in mid June? Yes there are, and that’s something we’re going to take a close look at when we’re able to do a very thorough review of all the information surrounding the fire.”

Brown says their main priority now is getting the fire under control and making sure the citizens of the borough of Fairbanks are safe and can return home. He couldn’t say if the department of defense would help pay for the fire fighting, but he says if citizens feel they’ve been harmed, there is a process.

“Should anyone up in Fairbanks determine there was damage done to their property or they feel like something was done that was the fault of the Army,then we do have a claims process that they can follow through on and each claim will be looked at individually, on its own merit,” Brown said.

Brown does not say much beyond that, and has declined to release the fire mitigation plan used for the artillery exercise in question, saying it’s under investigation.

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Lori Townsend is the News Director for the Alaska Public Radio Network. She got her start in broadcasting at the age of 11 as the park announcer of the fast pitch baseball games in Deer Park, Wisconsin. She has worked in print and broadcast journalism for more than 18 years. She was the co-founder and former Editor of Northern Aspects, a magazine featuring northern Wisconsin writers and artists. She worked for 7 years at tribal station WOJB on the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibway Reservation in Wisconsin, first as an on-air programmer and special projects producer and eventually News Director. In 1997 she co-hosted a continuing Saturday afternoon public affairs talk program on station KSTP in St. Paul, Minnesota. Radio brought her to Alaska where she worked as a broadcast trainer for Native fellowship students at Koahnic Broadcasting. Following her work there, she helped co-found the non-profit broadcast company Native Voice Communications with veteran Alaskan broadcasters Nellie Moore, D’Anne Hamilton, Len Anderson, Sharon McConnell and Veronica Iya. NVC created the award-winning Independent Native News as well as producing many other documentaries and productions. Townsend was NVC’s technical trainer and assistant producer of INN. Through her freelance work, she has produced news and feature stories nationally and internationally for Independent Native News, National Native News, NPR , Pacifica, Monitor Radio, Radio Netherlands and AIROS. Her print work and interviews have been published in News from Indian Country, Yakama Nation Review and other publications. Ms. Townsend has also worked as a broadcast trainer for the Native American Journalist’s Association and with NPR’s Doug Mitchell and as a freelance editor. Townsend is the recipient of numerous awards for her work from the Alaska Press Club, the Native American Journalists Association and a gold and a silver reel award from the National Federation of Community Broadcasters. Townsend was the recipient of a Fellowship at the Metcalf Institute for Marine and Environmental Reporting in Rhode Island as well as a fellowship at the Knight Digital Media Center in Berkeley. She is an avid reader, a rabid gardener and counts water skiing, training horses, diving and a welding certification among her past and current interests. ltownsend (at) alaskapublic (dot) org  |  907.550.8452 | About Lori