As Alaska moves into its seasonal rain pattern, wildland fire activity has moderated. The fire season in the Lower 48, however, is in full swing as the National Preparedness Level moved to five, the highest level of planning and organizing of resources in reaction to increasing fire danger. Firefighters from Alaska are answering the call for assistance Outside, just as a month ago, more than 2,500 firefighters from across the states and Canada were pouring into the Last Frontier to aid in Alaska’s massive firefighting effort.
Five Alaskan Type 2 Emergency Firefighting crews will depart Friday morning from the Bureau of Land Management Alaska Fire Service’s base on Ladd Army Airfield at Fort Wainwright. Crews mustering Thursday for their Friday departure are the Alaska Division of Forestry’s Chevak #1 crew and the BLM AFS’s Fort Yukon #1 and #2, St. Michael and Kaltag crews. The crews are headed to the Northern Rockies Coordination Center in Missoula, Mont. for possible assignments in Northern Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming.
The crews, consisting of 20 personnel each and seven overhead positions, will join six other Alaska crews already deployed to the Lower 48. The Type 1 Chena Interagency Hotshots are assigned to a fire in Wyoming while the Tanana Chiefs, Gannett Glacier, Yukon, White Mountain and U.S. Forest Service Region 10 Type 2 Initial Attack crews are staged in Northern California. There are an additional 143 Alaskan personnel aiding in suppression efforts in California, Idaho, Oregon, Washington and Wyoming.
Alaska has also released three state-contracted retardant tankers and several air attack platforms and helicopters, all with their crews and support personnel, to areas Outside. The Alaska Smokjumpers, meanwhile, have released 24 firefighters to jump bases in the Lower 48.
As fire danger increases in the western states, more crews will be requested from Alaska. Five more crews could leave as early as Monday with another five crews expected to follow later next week.
Alaska will maintain its initial attack response capability with remaining Alaska Smokejumpers, State Forestry crews, and EFF crews. As of Thursday, Aug. 13, there are still 204 active fires in Alaska. So far this season 745 fires have burned more than 5.1 million acres. Alaskan firefighters are still providing structure protection for remote cabins south of Ruby along with cabins, allotments and the village of Hughes on the Koyukuk River.