Fire rages through Hooper Bay, Alaska on Thursday, August 3, 2006

Fire rages through Hooper Bay, Alaska on Thursday, August 3, 2006

This photo of the flames nearing the bulk fuel tanks was taken earlier this morning. The existing school is totally destroyed. Currently, the weather is good— it is not sub-zero; neither Bethel airport or Hooper Bay are fog-bound; it is not the autumn gales.

When the crisis slows, I hope the Village will let us know what they found worked and what didn’t work in their response plans.

Ironically, since April, the state has been waiting for the City of Bethel to host a preparedness exercise that would also involve all the other Villages in our region (the state is only doing regional meetings). The City didn’t respond. In early June, the Bethel Fire Chief and other leaders said publicly that there was no need to do disaster planning except at the airport—

  • we are not unprepared
  • dispatcher must have been new
  • we’ve done it before
  • we survived
  • will be tough but we shelter our own
  • we have food on the shelves
  • we have the oil tank farm
  • we make our own water
  • we have electricity
  • Katrina? that was Louisiana

Fire still raging in Hooper Bay
By ALEX deMARBAN, Anchorage Daily News
Published: August 3, 2006, Last Modified: August 3, 2006 at 11:56 AM

A state forestry helicopter that scoops water from lakes is on its way to the Western Alaska village of Hooper Bay to help fight a raging fire that’s destroyed the elementary school, teacher housing and up to 10 private homes, state officials said.

At least 250 people have been evacuated from threatened homes. The helicopter, from McGrath, should arrive early this afternoon.

Public Safety Commissioner Bill Tandeske says the school and nearby buildings have burned to the ground and ten homes have also burned.

Officials with the Alaska National Guard say a grocery store has caught fire and dozens of other buildings, including city hall, are threatened…

Volunteer firefighters from the larger community of Bethel, about 154 miles southeast, are also flying to Hooper Bay to fight the fire, officials said….