A team of fire experts is assembling at Great Smoky Mountains National Park to conduct a review of the 2016 Chimney Tops 2 fire that started in the park on November 23rd.
The purpose of the review team is to identify the facts leading up to and during the Chimney Tops 2 fire within the boundaries of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, as well as make recommendations on any planning, operational, or managerial issues which can be addressed locally, regionally, and/or nationally to reduce the chances of a similar incident in the future.
The team is assigned to the fire review through the division chief for the National Park Service Division of Fire and Aviation in Boise, ID. Division Chief Bill Kaage stated, “The team will conduct a thorough review of the actions and response to this fire, which will include compliance with policy and application of professional wildland firefighting practices. Ultimately the purpose of the review is to identify lessons learned from this incident for use by any wildland firefighting agency.”
The Chimney Tops 2 fire review team is made up of interagency representatives: a team leader, a fire behavior specialist, two fire operations/risk management specialists, an NPS fire management officer from outside of the region, a municipal fire department representative from within the region, and an NPS management liaison.
Joe Stutler, a senior advisor for Deschutes County, Oregon, will lead the team. Stutler has extensive experience in wildland fire at the federal level as well as in local government and the private sector. He has nearly 50 years of knowledge of the complexities of fire management, including fire behavior and policy.
Other team members include:
• Fire Behavior Specialist: William Grauel, Bureau of Indian Affairs – National Fire Ecologist, Boise, ID
• Municipal Fire Department Representative: Jimmy Isaacs, Boone Fire Department – Chief, Boone, NC
• Fire Operations/Risk Management Specialist: Shane Greer, U.S. Forest Service – Assistant Fire Director-Risk Management, Region 2, Golden, CO
• NPS Fire Management Officer: Mike Lewelling, Rocky Mountain National Park – Fire Management Officer, Estes Park, CO
• Fire Operations/Risk Management Specialist/Writer/Editor: Miranda Stuart, NPS Branch of Wildland Fire – Fire Management Specialist, Crawfordville, FL
• NPS Management Liaison: Tim Reid, National Park Service – Superintendent, Devils Tower National Monument, WY
The work of the review team is expected to take up to two weeks. After that, the team has 45 days to complete their report and submit it to Chief Kaage for review prior to it being made public.