Southwest Area Fire update, July 10

FIRE REPORT, SOUTHWEST AREA, July 10, 2015
Six crews are now “on fires” in the Southwest Area. More specifically, they are fighting several fires clustered on either side of the middle Kuskokwim River between Lower Kalskag and Chuathbaluk.

Fire 229 -Whitefish Lake 1:   has been burning since May 31 to the south and east of the Kuskokwim and is now estimated at 65,400 acres. Today, the Lower Kalskag crew and the Payson Hotshots are continuing to build and improve fireline as well as continuing with protection for structures that may be in its path.

Fire 596 –Ophir Creek:   is east of the Whitefish Lake 1 fire and in the vicinity of a remote occupied home. The Nikolai crew and one of the two Miller Timber Services crews are developing firebreak.

Fire 547 –North Aniak:   started June 22 on the north side of the river, has consumed 51,569 acres and is being fought by the Gannett Glacier Type 2 IA crew and the second Miller Timber Services contract crew.

Aniak Complex:  Because of the concentration of fires and the resulting personnel build-up in that area, the “Aniak Complex” has been temporarily set up. This can be described as a forward operating base of the McGrath station, which since July 1, is itself a branch of the Mat-Su Forestry District. Besides attacking the mid-Kuskokwim fires, the Aniak Complex resources will provide initial attack response to new fires there. McGrath based helicopters and firefighters as well as smoke jumpers will continue to respond to new starts elsewhere in Southwest.

Fire weather forecasts:   for the weekend include thunderstorms, especially in the northern tier of Southwest. For much of this area, recent weather has included some precipitation but not enough to significantly lessen fires and fire danger. Wildfire fuels are not just trees but also include grasses, brush, and ground “duff”. Lack of winter snowfall followed by hot summer weather and little rainfall have made these fuels tinder-dry, so even cooler temperatures and bits of rain are little help in suppressing existing fires or putting out new lightning strikes.

Note:   The open fires burn ban for Southwest Alaska has been lifted by the State Fire Marshall

Contact: Francis Mitchell, Public Information Officer, SW Area, Div. of Forestry
Ph 907 524 0064 fireinfoSWS@gmail.com

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