July 17, 8 p.m. – In the last week dry weather and lightning storms have caused a series of wildfires across the Copper River Basin and in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve. Multiple agencies are working to aggressively fight fire safely, as well as manage these fires for their natural benefits. The two fires burning within Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve lie within a limited protection area, which means they will be monitored closely by fire managers to determine if more actions are necessary
A Fire Weather Warning is in effect for the Copper River Basin on Monday, July 18 in the afternoon and evening. This means the forecast is calling for high winds, dry conditions, and hot temperatures in the Basin. Please be mindful of this and extinguish all fires completely. If you see a new fire, please report it to your nearest Alaska Division of Forestry office or call 911.
The following is a synopsis of the fires in the Copper River Basin:
Cutoff Fire – This lightning-caused fire was ignited on July 13 on Ahtna Incorporated land and grew into Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve lands to reach 57 acres as of Saturday, July 16. It’s located less than a mile from the Tok Cutoff highway, the 125-mile scenic highway that connects the Alaska and the Richardson highways between Tok and Glennallen. Personnel worked with both air tankers and helicopters to suppress the fire. Thirty-three total personnel were able to use Saturday’s rainfall to their advantage and contain the fire to 100% contained. The crews have worked to put out any smoldering fire, to within 25 feet of the perimeter, and are working to within 40 feet of the perimeter today. Smoke may still be visible on the interior of the fire as they work to put out all smoldering embers in the next few days.
Yokneda Lake Fire – This lightning-caused fire was ignited on July 17 and spread to an estimated 2,000 acres on both Ahtna Incorporated and Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve lands, near Mile 30 of the Tok Cutoff Highway, southwest of the community of Chistochina. Smoke was thick in this area on Friday, July 15 th , but has since dissipated. Use caution driving and slow down if you experience thick smoke on the highway in this area. Fire activity was reduced on Saturday with rain, cooler temperatures and higher humidities. This fire lies within a limited protection area, which means it will be monitored by fire managers to determine if more actions are necessary.
Copper River Fire – This lightning- caused fire was reported on July 15 east-southeast of Copper Center, across the Copper River on Ahtna Incorporated lands.The half-acre fire was observed creeping and smoldering, but in the last few days smoke was visible from Copper Center and Kenny Lake areas. This fire is within a modified protection area, meaning that fire managers are closely monitoring its activity and will take action if it threatens structures or property. Personnel are watching the fire closely.
These fires are burning within Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve:
Steamboat Creek Fire – This lightning-caused fire was reported on July 15 within Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve, about 14 miles southeast of McCarthy in the 2009 Chakina Fire perimeter. Smoke has been visible from Kennecott and McCarthy. The fire has grown to an 275 acres and was burning actively when checked by air on Sunday. Alaska Division Forestry personnel will continue to monitor closely.
Klawasi Fire – This small lightning-caused fire was also reported on July 15 within Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve, about 7 miles northeast of Copper Center. It was last estimated at 0.2 acres in size and has since received rainfall. Personnel will be monitoring this fire, but little activity has been observed.
For more fire information please visit http://www.akfireinfo.com or http://www.nps.gov/wrst for updates. For inquiries please call Jamie Hart, Fire Information Officer at 217-549- 4392.