July 16, 5:45 p.m. – Mother Nature continued to aid firefighters working to suppress a wildfire threatening several cabins on the Salcha River south of Fairbanks on Saturday, according to the Alaska Division of Forestry.
A change in wind direction on Friday afternoon helped push the Mid Salcha Fire away from the river and cabins. The fire received one-half inch of rain overnight Friday to help give firefighters a foothold in suppressing the blaze. In addition, cooler temperatures are also helping moderate fire behavior.
The fire was mapped with a GPS at 1,170 acres during a reconnaissance flight on Saturday, which is more than 300 acres less than Friday’s estimate of 1,500 acres.
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. There are more than 30 recreational cabins threatened by the fire.
Three more crews arrived on Saturday to join the suppression effort, bringing the number of personnel working on the fire to approximately 120. That number includes five 20-person crews that are focusing their efforts on securing the perimeter of the fire along a winter trail that parallels the south side of the river.
West winds on Saturday continued to push the fire to the east away from the river and cabins. Fire managers will continue steering the fire in that direction if the wind cooperates.
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 across Alaska on Thursday. Approximately 45,000 lightning strikes have been recorded across Alaska during the last three days, igniting more than 100 new fires from the west coast of Alaska to the Canadian border.
For more information, contact Alaska Division of Forestry public information officer Tim Mowry at 356-5511 or firstname.lastname@example.org.