June 3 – A small wildfire burning in a remote part of the the Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge in Southwest Alaska is being monitored by the Alaska Division of Forestry with assistance from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The Aropuk Lake Fire was estimated at 20 acres when it was reported Thursday morning. The fire is burning in tundra and surrounded by sloughs and small ponds. At last report, the fire was creeping and backing into the wind, spreading south and north.
Multiple Native allotments have been identified in the area but due to the location of the fire and natural barriers in the area no allotments are immediately threatened. The nearest allotment is 4 miles away from the fire.
The fire is burning in a Limited protection zone and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has directed the Division of Forestry to take no suppression action unless Native allotments or other values at risk on adjacent Native Corporation lands are threatened. According to the Alaska Interagency Wildland Fire Management Plan, fires in Limited protection zones are allowed “to burn naturally to the extent possible in order to protect, maintain, and enhance the natural and cultural resources and maintain natural fire regimes.”
Stakeholders agreed that the potential risk to firefighter safety outweighed the risk of the fire impacting values. Additionally, with weather predictions for additional lightning and strong winds, it was determined that committing initial attack resources to a remote fire in a Limited protection area reduces the capacity to respond to higher priority fires.
The Alaska Division of Forestry and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will continue to monitor the fire’s progression from the air.
For more information, contact Sarah Saarloos at the Alaska Division of Forestry at 907-761-6233.