Tok River Fire now estimated at more than 700 acres

July 15, 8:20 p.m. – The Tok River Fire is now estimated to be 728 acres following a reconnaissance flight early Friday evening and the fire is still being held south of the Tok River, about 1 ½ miles south of the Tok Cutoff Highway.
The Tok River Fire is burning about 8 miles southwest of Tok near Mile 115 of the Tok Cutoff. The fire was started by a lightning strike Thursday afternoon about 5 miles off the Tok Cutoff but south winds pushed it about 3 ½ miles toward the road and river.
A change in the wind direction and the efforts of firefighters complimented by heavy equipment helped to keep the fire south of the Tok River on Friday. The wind direction switched to out of the west on Friday, pushing the fire east rather than north. Fire behavior also moderated on Friday as a result of higher relative humidity.
Bulldozers and firefighters, meanwhile, are working to build a line along the northwest perimeter of the fire to keep it from crossing the river.
Two initial attack crews from the Alaska Division of Forestry are working to cut a saw line along the same flank that parallels the river to create a fuel break. Two bulldozers, meanwhile, are being used to construct a dozer line from the north end that will merge with the saw line cut by the crews.
The TCC crew was inserted into the middle of the left flank along the river and is working its way toward the tail of the fire while the White Mountain crew is working from the tail toward the TCC crew. Once the two crews connect, the TCC crew will return to where it started and work its way north toward the two bulldozers while the White Mountain crew will move to the right flank of the fire where most of the fire activity occurred today.
Crews also benefitted from a change in the wind direction Friday that pushed the fire away from the river. The wind had been blowing from the south but it switched to a west wind Friday, pushing the fire to the east away from the river. A helicopter with a bucket was used to drop water on the right flank of the fire.
A short Type 2 incident management team from the Alaska will be taking command of the fire Saturday morning under the direction of Incident Commander Tom Kurth, chief of the Wildland Fire and Aviation Program for the Alaska Division of Forestry.
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.
The Tok River 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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