3:30 p.m. June 13, 2016 – The more than 150 wildland firefighters working to suppress the Warren Creek Fire burning in northwest Alaska received assistance from Mother Nature in the form of light rain Sunday night and Monday to help prevent any further spread of the fire.
The size of the fire was officially listed at 3,266 acres as of late Sunday night and the fire wasn’t expected to grow much more as three more crews were mobilized Monday to assist with suppression efforts, bringing the total number of firefighters assigned to the fire to approximately 225.
The TCC Type 2 Initial Attack Crew and the Type 2 UAF Wildland Fire Crew, both sponsored by the Alaska Division of Forestry, were scheduled to arrive at the fire sometime Monday afternoon, as was a Type 2 BLM Alaska Fire Service crew from the village of Holy Cross .
While the rain was merely a light drizzle, it, along with cooler, cloudier conditions, helped moderate fire behavior and allow firefighters on the ground to go on the offensive.
“Given what the weather is today and what’s forecast for tomorrow, we’ve got enough crews that they’ll have it pretty much surrounded in a couple of days,” Doug Downs, fire management officer for the BLM Alaska Fire Service’s Galena Zone, said. “I don’t think it’s going to move any more than it is.”
The fire is burning about 5 miles north of the village of Kobuk and approximately 10 miles north of the village of Shungnak. Neither village has been threatened to this point.
Dahl Creek, an old Bureau of Land Management fire station, is about one mile west of where the fire started. There is nobody living at Dahl Creek but the site has cabins belonging to different government agencies, as well as several privately-owned structures and a large airstrip that firefighters have been working to protect in the event the fire turned direction.
The fire was listed as 15 percent contained as of Sunday night and crews should be able to start mop-up operations in the next day or two, Downs said.
Water-scooping aircraft were not being used on Monday due to weather, he said.
Strong winds on Sunday afternoon increased fire activity on the north and northwest portion of the fire, as well as a pocket of activity in the middle of the fire. The northeast side of the fire burned into some rocks and showed little activity.
The fire was reported on Friday afternoon and grew quickly to approximately 1,000 acres. Water-scooping aircraft and more than 20 smokejumpers responded to the fire to keep it from spreading to Dahl Creek. Crews began arriving on Saturday and water scoopers worked through the weekend to keep the fire in check.
A temporary flight restriction remains in place over the area of the fire and pilots should check the status of the TFR before flying in that area.
Call the fire information office at (907) 356-5511 for more information.