2:36- (Tok, AK) – The Chisana River 2 Fire has grown to 33,805 acres and is now the largest wildland fire burning in Alaska at this time. This lightning-caused fire began June 9 in the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve. The north end of the fire has burned into the Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge. The fire is burning along the west side of the Chisana River about 16 miles south of the Alaska Highway and 18 miles from the Canadian border.
A full Type 3 incident management team from Nevada took command of the Chisana River 2 Fire at 7:00 AM Monday, June 22. The Type 3 team is also managing the Long Lake fire by Northway. The Incident Command Post is set up at the Tok Area Forestry office compound, and fire operations are located at Northway.
Several cabins continue to be threatened by this fire. Firefighters are working to protect four cabins that could be threatened. The two cabins closest to the fire are the King City Cabin and Stuver Creek Cabin. Firefighters have set up sprinklers around the cabins to wet down the area. The fire is expected to continue growing.
Fire managers are working to limit impacts from this fire to travelers along the Alaska Highway corridor. Smoke from these fires will be affecting visibility along the Alaska Highway between Tok and the Canadian border. Motorists are urged to drive with lights on and slow down when visibility is poor or firefighting equipment is present. Flaggers and pilot cars will be used when conditions call for their use in order to keep traffic moving safely through the area affected by smoke from the fires.
As the wildland fire protection agency for the area, the Alaska Division of Forestry office in Tok is working closely with interagency managers from the National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Bureau of Indian Affairs to monitor the fire and prepare appropriate actions to protect life, property, and travel on the Alaska Highway. The fire is burning in a limited protection area and no suppression efforts have been taken thus far. Federal land managers have opted to let the fire take its natural course, as fire in the boreal forest of Alaska is
an essential process that restores ecosystem health and helps to maintain species diversity. Once again, agency managers will step in when measures are necessary to protect life or property.
For information on the Chisana River 2 Fire, go to http://inciweb.nwcg.gov.