Hot weather, 18,000 lightning strikes behind uptick in fire activity

Map - There were 12,001 lightning strikes recorded across Alaska between 6 a.m. and 4:16 p.m. today, July 14, 2016, according to the Alaska Interagency Coordination Center.

There were 12,001 lightning strikes recorded across Alaska between 6 a.m. and 4:16 p.m. today, July 14, 2016, according to the Alaska Interagency Coordination Center.

July 14, 2016 – High temperatures coupled with more than 18,000 lightning strikes throughout Alaska in the past two days resulted in 43 new ignitions and increased activity on already burning fires with more of the same anticipated this evening. Most of these new fires popped up in limited protection areas and aren’t threatening structures or known sites of values. The Alaska Interagency Coordination Center will continue to assess the ongoing response to the dynamic fire behavior.

The bulk of the new starts happened in the Kuskokwim Delta and McGrath areas. These fires fall within the Alaska Division of Forestry fire protection area (click on link for more information). Nine new starts fall within the BLM Alaska Fire Service protection area. All but one of these fires was placed on monitored status. The Tobuk Fire (#417) was spotted by BLM AFS people working on the Iniakuk Lake Fire (#320) on the opposite side of the lake located about 40 miles west of Bettles. The Tobuk Fire was spotted burning about a third of a mile west of the Iniakuk Fire, which is burning on the southwest side of the lake. The new fire was reported at less of an acre, but burning in black and white spruce trees. Four BLM AFS smokejumpers were put on the fire and caught it by 7 p.m. The smokejumpers remained on the fire overnight to make sure it was out. Meanwhile, the 11 people on the Iniakuk Fire continued to do burn out operations to provide fuel breaks around a cabin and an allotment as the fire burned around the southern edge of a ridge and to the lake’s edge. It will likely burn on the east side of the lake, and toward a lodge and other buildings on the north side of the lake. Those working on the fire will continue their diligent work for providing protection for the structures and allotments situated on the lake.

The BLM AFS other new fires on Wednesday are:

Narvak Lake (#416) – reported by a pilot who spotted it burning in the Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve north of Shelby Lake. At first it was thought to smoke from existing fires. It was less than an acre and burning about 9.5 miles from a lodge. This fire will be monitored by Galena Zone personnel.

Hunter Creek (#446) – spotted at about 9:30 p.m. by an agency aircraft and reported about a half an acre burning in a limited protection area on state lands. This fire will be monitored by Tanana Zone personnel.

 

Wilson Creek (#444) – this fire was also spotted burning on state lands by an agency aircraft. It was reported at 8:51 p.m. at about 20 acres and exhibiting a variety of fire activity as it was backing to the west and burning to the east in black spruce and tundra on flat terrain. This fire will be monitored by Galena Zone personnel.

 

Camp Creek (#443) – this fire was spotted on state lands by an agency aircraft at 8:40 p.m. The fire was reported at about 10 acres and backing to the north. It was burning on flat terrain and to the southeast through black spruce and tundra. Galena Zone personnel will monitor.

 

Minnesota Creek (#438) – this fire was spotted burning on state lands by an agency aircraft at about 8:15 p.m. It was reported as smoldering and creeping through a mixture of spruce and hardwoods on state lands. Galena Zone personnel will monitor.

 

Galatea Creek (#437) – this far was spotted burning on state lands by an agency aircraft at about 7:30 p.m. The fire was reported as 100 percent active with extreme fire behavior and burning down a slope at a moderate rate of spread. It was estimated to be 15 acres. Galena Zone personnel will monitor.

July (#436) – This fire was spotted burning on state lands by an agency aircraft at about 7:40 p.m. This fire was reported as slowly burning through black spruce on a slope. Galena Zone personnel will monitor.

Yuki River (#435) – This fire was spotted burning on state lands by an agency aircraft at about 7:30 p.m. It was reported as burning to the south and west at a moderate rate of speed. It was estimated at 30 acres. Galena Zone personnel will monitor.

In addition, the BLM AFS continues to demobilize staff the Alatna Complex (fires 323, 335, 337, 342,364,398 and 399). However, some remain in Allakaket in case of increased fire activity.

BLM AFS smokejumpers and the DOF’s Pioneer Peak Interagency Hotshots continue to work a fire that spread from burning debris at the Mountain Village Dump (#248) to the surrounding tundra, first on June 7, then once again on July 3. Smokejumpers, the water scooping Fire Bosses and local residents initially attacked the fire and successfully deemed it contained on June 11.

Smokejumpers returned to the village when another debris burn pile escaped the dump on July 3. The city continues working with an excavator and dozer working around the dump area. Pioneer Peak and the smokejumpers tied in hose lay on the hillside as Personnel began working on a two acre area that was burning in the old burn and are working on mopping parts of the fire as it burns deep in peat. It’s estimated to have burned 73 acres.

For more information, contact Beth Ipsen, BLM AFS public affairs specialist at eipsen@blm.gov or (907)356-5511.

About BLM Alaska Fire Service

The Bureau of Land Management Alaska Fire Service (AFS) located at Fort Wainwright, Alaska, provides wildland fire suppression services for over 244 million acres of Department of the Interior and Native Corporation Lands in Alaska. In addition, AFS has other statewide responsibilities that include: interpretation of fire management policy; oversight of the BLM Alaska Aviation program; fuels management projects; and operating and maintaining advanced communication and computer systems such as the Alaska Lightning Detection System. AFS also maintains a National Incident Support Cache with a $10 million inventory. The Alaska Fire Service provides wildland fire suppression services for America’s “Last Frontier” on an interagency basis with the State of Alaska Department of Natural Resources, USDA Forest Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the U.S. Military in Alaska.

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