Wildland fire roundup for Tuesday, June 2

12:30 p.m. — The bulk of firefighting effort in Alaska continues to be centered on a series of lightning-caused fires in the Southwest region.

Three more lightning starts were discovered in the area on Monday to boost the number of lightning-caused fires to 14 since Sunday. None of the three new fires were significant and no resources were expended to fight them.

The biggest fires burning in the Southwest region are the Whitefish Lake 1 and Whitefish Lake 2 fires about 10 miles southwest of Kalskag in the Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge, which were estimated at 1,400 and 1,000 acres, respectively, as of Monday night. Both fires were started by lightning on Sunday in black spruce and tundra. A water-scooping aircraft was dispatched to the fires on Monday and spent the day dropping water on both fires. Eight smokejumpers were sent to the Whitefish Lake 2 Fire to assist with suppression efforts and more crews were expected to arrive. The tentative plan is to merge the two fires and work to suppress the larger fire with multiple crews.

There were 41 personnel working on the Getmuna Creek Fire, another lightning-caused blaze from Sunday burning 50 miles southeast of Holy Cross near the Kuskokwim River. Firefighters worked through the night Sunday and had it 15 percent contained as of Monday. Crews from Nikolai and Kalskag were mobilized to the fire to assist with suppression and eight smokejumpers were released from the fire. A helicopter equipped with a water bucket was also being used to assist with suppression efforts. Firefighters are planning to further establish line construction, mop-up in targeted areas and continue with heavy saw work.

Firefighters are still working to suppress five other fires around the state. The fire with the most resources currently assigned is the 37-acre Cummings Road Fire about 30 miles southeast of Delta. As of Tuesday morning, there are 60 personnel working the human-caused fire that started Saturday. The plan is to bring in more emergency firefighters Tuesday so one of the two Type 2 initial attack crews assigned to the fire can be released. The objective for crews today is to extend and widen the containment line.

Firefighters continued work on the 2,662-acre Seventy Mile Fire eight miles northwest of the community of Eagle burning along the Seventymile River. That fire started from a lightning strike on May 24. There are still 31 personnel on the fire after 10 smokejumpers were demobilized Monday. Remaining personnel moved camp to a more centralized location where they continue monitoring the fire and providing point protection on cabins and allotment.

There are 26 personnel assigned to the 15-acre Hillbilly Fire on military land 25 miles southwest of Delta Junction. The acreage was reduced by five acres as a result of better mapping and is listed as 25 percent contained today.

Another fire on military land, the 4-acre Ptarmigan Fire, is burning south of the Hillbilly Fire and is listed as contained as eight firefighters continue mop up operations.

A helicopter dropped three firefighters at the Little Creek Fire in southwest Alaska on Monday to begin suppression efforts. The 17-acre fire started from lightning on Sunday and was listed as contained by Monday afternoon.

A low-pressure system moved into the Upper Yukon and Tanana River valleys producing snow and below-freezing temperatures on Monday, moderating fire danger throughout the area. The only action reported was a false alarm in the Fairbanks area from smoke being seen from someone firing up a wood stove.

As of today, a total of 216 fires have burned 10,957 acres in Alaska this season.

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