Denali National Park and Preserve Monitoring 13 Wildfires

For Immediate Release – July 27, 2015

Contact: Michelle Fidler – 907-644-3418 or Kathleen Kelly 907-683-9504

Denali National Park and Preserve Monitoring 13 Wildfires

DENALI PARK, Alaska: Fire managers are currently monitoring 13 lightning-ignited wildfires burning in remote areas of Denali National Park and Preserve. There are no threats to park structures or sensitive resources at this time. The Type 3 team that had been supporting all of the fires burning in Denali National Park and Preserve demobilized July 26. The Alaska Fire Service – Tanana Zone, the wildland fire protection agency for the area, is working closely with interagency managers from the National Park Service (NPS) to a monitor the fires periodically from the air as they take their natural course. Firefighters will take measures to protect life and property as necessary.

The Iron Fire #460 (4,148. 5 acres) started June 21.  The fire is located 13 miles southwest of Wonder Lake.  It is burning in black spruce. On July 17 a NPS helicopter monitored the fire by air and reported no visible activity.

The McLeod Fire #463 (452.1 acres) started June 21. The fire is located 11 miles southwest of Wonder Lake.  The fire is burning in black spruce. On July 17 a NPS helicopter monitored the fire by air and reported no visible activity.

The Foraker River Fire #474 (1,043.1 acres) started June 21. It is located approximately 28 miles southwest of Kantishna. The fire is burning in black spruce. On July 16 a NPS helicopter monitored the fire by air and reported no fire activity.

The Bear Creek Fire #543 (5,774.7 acres) started June 21. It is located approximately 5 miles north of Kantishna. It is burning in black spruce. Fire managers flew over the fire on July 19, but were unable to assess fire activity due to limited visibility from smoke from other Minchumina fires. Fire managers previously reported no visible smoke when they monitored the fire by helicopter on July 17.

The Herron Fire #571 (903.8 acres) started June 23.  The fire is located 43 miles southwest of Kantishna near the headwaters of Highpower Creek and Herron River.  The fire is burning in black spruce, grass and brush. On July 16 a NPS helicopter monitored the fire by air and reported no visible activity.

The Carlson Lake Fire #635 (40,257.7 acres) started June 25. The fire is located 36 miles northwest of Kantishna and 2.6 miles east of Lake Minchumina. It is burning in black spruce. As of July 22 the fire was smoldering and creeping. Smokes were visible on the eastern perimeter.  The fire has received moderate rain.

The Bear Paw Fire #639 (29.7 acres) started June 25. The fire is located 15 miles northeast of Kantishna in the Kantishna Hills. The fire is burning in tundra and brush. As of July 6 the perimeter was 0% active.

The Castle Rock Fire #650 (323.0 acres) started June 24. The fire is located 36 miles west by southwest of Kantishna, 1.2 miles south of Castle Rocks.  It is burning in black spruce.  A NPS helicopter flew the fire on July 20. No fire activity was observed.

The Chilchukabena Fire #652 (361.3 acres) started June 25. The fire is located 21 miles northwest of Kantishna. The fire is burning in black spruce and tundra. As of July 9 the fire was 1% active with smoldering observed. There was one smoke on the perimeter.

The Moose Creek Fire #654 (2,865.4 acres) started June 25. The fire is located 22 miles north of Kantishna. It is burning in black spruce and hardwoods. The latest acreage update was on July 22.

The Munsatli 2 Fire # 703 (91,442.6 acres).  The fire is located 11 miles southwest of Lake Minchumina. A portion on this fire is burning in the park on the western most park boundary. It is burning in brush, hardwoods and black spruce.   As of July 25, minimal creeping and backing fire behavior was reported. Most of the activity is on the northeast portion of the fire, with pockets of activity on each side of the fire, as well as interior pockets burning out. The portion of the fire that has burned into the park was previously known as the Lonestar Fire #664, which started to the west of the Denali National Park and Preserve boundary on June 26.  On July 24 the 6,940.5 acre Lonestar Fire #664 was declared administratively out when it and the Munsatli Fire #730 merged with the Munsatli 2 Fire #703. 

The Foraker Fire #716 (1,725.0 acres) started June 21.  The fire is located 33 miles west of Kantishna.  It is burning in black spruce. The fire continues to creep. A helicopter reconnaissance flight on June 20 showed no change in acreage.

The Diamond Fire #791 (15.0 acres) started July 23. The fire is located 27 miles north of Kantishna near Otter Creek.  It is burning in black spruce and tundra. The fire was discovered by aircraft on the evening of July 23, the perimeter was 10% active, with light west winds.

Fire in the boreal forest of Alaska is an essential process that restores ecosystem health and helps to maintain species diversity. Throughout time, fires have served to select plants and animals that adapted to fire-caused change. Both black and white spruce depend on intense ground fire to clear organic layers thereby exposing fertile seedbeds. Moreover, black spruce partially depends upon fire, in that its seeds ready for germination at the peak of the Alaskan interior fire season and are released when its semi-serotinous cones open by canopy fire. Furthermore, fire plays a key role in the regulation of the permafrost table. Without the routine occurrence of fire, organic matter accumulates, the permafrost table rises, and ecosystem productivity declines. Vegetation communities, wildlife habitat and wildlife become less diverse. Fire, the agent of change, removes some of the insulating organic matter, elicits a warming of the soil, maintains and rejuvenates these systems.

Currently there are 291 active wildfires in the state; so far this year 723 fires have burned more than 4.7 million acres in Alaska. For statewide wildfire information, visit akfireinfo.com or http://fire.ak.blm.gov.

Where there is fire, there is smoke. Due to the current and expected statewide fire activity, anticipate the possibility of varying levels of smoke at times. Keep informed of local fire information and air quality reports. Wildfire smoke information is available at http://dec.alaska.gov/air/smokemain.htm.  You can also monitor current conditions on the park’s webcams at http://go.nps.gov/1dtx7j.

Additional park information is available at nps.gov/dena or by calling 907-683-9532 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. Stay connected with “DenaliNPS” on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, and iTunes – links to these social media sites are available at nps.gov/dena/connect.

July 27, 2015 map of wildland fires in and around Denali National Park and Preserve

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