May 20, 2015 4:45 p.m.– On Tuesday two additional coal seam fires were spotted about six miles northeast of Healy along Lignite Creek by a Division of Forestry helicopter that was monitoring three other coal seam fires nearby.
The largest of these five fires is the 108-acre French Gulch Fire that is burning six miles east of Healy on Alaska Mental Health Trust land along Healy Creek. These wildland fires are started by underground coal seam fires that occasionally ignite dry fuels on the surface. Smoke from these fires is a combination of noxious smoke from the burning coal seams along with smoke from the burning or smoldering tundra, trees and brush. The hazardous smoke conditions and rugged terrain makes for unsafe conditions for firefighters.
The Division of Forestry is actively monitoring and patrolling these fires, and will take additional suppression actions if the fires spread towards the Parks Highway or other important resources.It is likely additional small coal seam fires will develop as the warm and dry weather conditions continue, as this area has a history of such fires.
The traveling public and commercial pilots may see smoke from these scattered small fires.
Categories: Active Wildland Fire, AK Fire Info