May 22, 1:55 p.m.– The Alaska Division of Forestry continues actively monitoring the five small fires east of Healy that began earlier this week from smoldering coal seams. On Thursday, the Type 3 Incident Commander Clinton Northway surveyed all five fires from the air. He reports seeing no smoke or fire activity at two of the fires, one small smoke in the center of a third fire, and minimal creeping and smoldering fire behavior on the remaining two fires. Perimeters of the three larger fires may be viewed on the AICC fire map page at http://afsmaps.blm.gov/imf_fire/imf.jsp?site=fire. Most of these fires are located about six miles east of Healy and the Parks Highway. Fire managers are working on contingency plans in case these fires do become more active in order to protect the nearby community and other values that may be at risk.
It is possible more small fires will develop from other burning coal seams as the warm and dry weather conditions persist. The public needs to be aware that the very dry fuels around their homes and communities can be ignited by just a small spark and will be difficult to stop once a new fire starts.