Lightning strikes ignite more than 40 new fires across Interior

Lightning strikes sparked more than three dozen new wildfires across the Interior on Wednesday afternoon and more fires are being reported Thursday as a result of those strikes.
The Alaska Interagency Coordination Center in Fairbanks reported almost 7,200 lightning strikes in Alaska on Wednesday and another 11,000 lightning strikes had been recorded as of 4 p.m. Thursday.
The Southwest Area around McGrath was the hardest hit, with 22 new fires reported on Wednesday and another eight reported Thursday as of 3:30 p.m. Many of those fires are burning in remote areas designated as Limited suppression management areas and no action is being taken on them.
Because more lightning is predicted this afternoon and tactical resources are limited, state fire managers with the Alaska Division of Forestry and BLM Alaska Fire Service are in the process of prioritizing which fires pose a threat and require suppression action.
Thanks to quick and aggressive response efforts, firefighters were able to suppress several fires in the Copper River Basin, Tok and Fairbanks areas on Wednesday that posed a threat to communities, roads and other values at risk.
Two air retardant tankers were used to knock down a fire burning near Mile 50 of the Tok Cutoff Highway between Tok and Glennallen . The Cutoff Fire was reported at approximately 2:40 p.m. and was less than mile from the road and moving in that direction when retardant tankers successfully halted its spread by boxing it in with retardant drops. Two hand crews were then brought in and worked through the night to contain the fire. As of 1:30 p.m. Thursday, the fire was 80 percent contained and initial attack resources were scheduled to be released later in the day.
Another fire about one-half mile off the Alaska Highway near Mile 1376 was contained with the use of water-scooping aircraft and an initial attack ground crew that hiked in to the fire. The Dry Creek Ridge Fire was reported by several motorists on the Alaska Highway at around 4 p.m. It was located about 2.5 miles from the community of Dry Creek.
Two water-scooping planes and a helicopter with a bucket were called in to drop water on the fire to slow its spread while the White Mountain Type 2 Initial Attack Crew hiked in to the fire for ground attack. The crew worked through the night to cut a saw line around the perimeter of the fire, which was called fully contained as of 5 a.m.
The Fairbanks Area Forestry office received numerous calls reporting visible flames following a lightning strike about 20 miles north of Fairbanks at around 10 p.m. Four smokejumpers from the BLM Alaska Fire Service and a helitack squad and engines from the Division of Forestry in Fairbanks were deployed on the Lower Washington Creek Fire, which was about a mile west of the trans-Alaska oil pipeline and 5 miles west of the Elliott Highway on Himalaya Road. Firefighters cut a line around the fire contained the fire to one-tenth of an acre. The four smokejumpers were released from the fire early Thursday morning and the fire was fully contained by noon.

About Alaska Division of Forestry

Alaska Division of Forestry website: http://forestry.alaska.gov/ Mission: The Alaska Division of Forestry proudly serves Alaskans through forest management and wildland fire protection. The Wildland Fire and Aviation Program provides safe, cost-effective and efficient fire protection services and related fire and aviation management activities to protect human life and values on State, private and municipal lands. The wildland fire program cooperates with other wildland fire agencies on a statewide, interagency basis.

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