Change in wind direction pushes wildfire near Salcha River away from cabins

July 15, 8:30 p.m. – A change in wind direction on Friday helped firefighters keep a wildfire burning south of Fairbanks along the Salcha River from advancing toward several recreational cabins along the river.
The Mid Salcha Fire quadrupled in size on Friday from 350 acres to approximately 1,500 acres but west winds pushed the fire southeast away from the river and dozens of cabins that line the riverbank, according to the Alaska Division of Forestry.
The fire is located about 15 air miles upriver from the Richardson Highway. It is one-half mile south of the river and 3 miles north of the trans-Alaska oil pipeline.
The change in wind direction provided some breathing room for firefighters as they worked to secure the perimeter of the fire that had been encroaching on at least a half dozen cabins. Two air tankers were also used to create a retardant line in front of the threatened cabins.
“If it keeps moving east along the river corridor we’ll keep checking it and keep moving it past structures,” Fairbanks Area Fire Management Officer Ed Sanford said.
Firefighters were focusing on securing edges of the perimeter where possible and protecting structures when and where needed, he said.
Two 20-person crews are currently working on the fire and two more crews from the village of Fort Yukon will join the effort tomorrow.
A weather system is expected to move into the Interior in the next few days, bringing with it cooler temperatures and a good chance of precipitation. If that happens as predicted, the threat of the fire will be greatly reduced, Sanford said.
A temporary flight restriction has been placed over the fire and pilots should avoid flying in the area. To check on specifics of the TFR, pilots should go to http://tfr.faa.gov/tfr2/list.html.
Cabin owners who plan to travel upriver to check on their cabins are advised to use caution due to increased boat traffic transporting firefighters and equipment.
The Mid Salcha Fire was one of more than three dozen new fires sparked by lightning strikes on Thursday across Alaska. More than 25,000 lightning strikes have been recorded across Alaska during the last two days, igniting dozens of new fires from the west coast of Alaska to the Canadian border.

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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