|Alaska was pummelled by more than 600 lightning-started wildfires in 2019, threatening Native Alaskan Villages, remote townships and communities, homesteads, cabins, economic infrastructure including gold mines, air travel and air quality. Alaska's Department of Natural Resources, Division of Forestry, maintains a forward base of operations in McGrath, Alaska, a vital city and transportation port deep in Alaska's vast interior. McGrath is home to 350 residents living near the banks of the mighty, muddy Kuskokwim.
The McGrath Fire Base is a well-developed facility employing and training dozens of local residents to staff a helitak base, air tanker base, smokejumper spike base, aircraft ramp, a great kitchen, warehouse, repair shop, administration and housing.
The McGrath Fire Base deployed and re-supplied hundreds of wildland firefighters in 2019 to protect life and property. About a half a million acres burned in the Southwest Alaska Area in 2019, with 2.5 million total acres burning across Alaska by year's end.