The Tetlin River Fire near Tok is now estimated at approximately 700 acres and continues to pose a threat to the village of Tetlin as more than 100 firefighters from the Alaska Division of Forestry and BLM Alaska Fire Service work to contain it.
More crews were expected to arrive on the fire today and fire managers were bracing for another hot, windy day that will pose a challenge for firefighters. The National Weather Service has issued a Red Flag Warning for the eastern Interior for high winds, low relative humidity and hot temperatures.
No evacuations have been ordered for the village, though elders have been have been asked to be prepared to leave if the fire advances on the village. The fire is threatening approximately 120 residences in the village, which is located about 16 miles off the Alaska Highway.
The fire is located south of the Tanana River, just outside the Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge. It is approximately 20 miles south of Tok. Traffic on the highway has not been impacted.
At least three more crews were expected to join the suppression effort today to keep the fire from further encroaching on the village. The fire bumped into the airstrip outside the village Friday night and firefighters’ main objective at this point is to protect the village and airstrip. The fire is burning mainly in black spruce with some hardwoods mixed in.
Crews will also work on securing the northern flank of the fire today and begin working around the edge of the fire. Boats from the village of Tetlin have been hired to shuttle firefighters on the ground
The fire grew rapidly on Friday after the Division of Forestry received a report of smoke on the Tetlin River at approximately 10 a.m. The fire was estimated at 50 acres by 4:30 p.m. and grew to 130 acres by 5:45 p.m. It ballooned to 300 acres by 6:20 p.m. and was estimated at roughly 700 acres by midnight.
Sixteen smokejumpers from the BLM Alaska Fire Service were mobilized to the fire, in addition to multiple aircraft that were ordered to drop water and retardant on the fire to slow its spread. The aircraft worked into the late evening doing water and retardant drops and they will return to the fire today to do more of the same.
The cause of the fire is unknown at this time but is believed to be human caused and is under investigation.