Southwest wildfires continue to grow due to dry, windy conditions

July 17, 6:30 p.m. – Multiple wildfires in Southwest Alaska continue to grow due to windy conditions and lack of rain. A total of 45 fires are burning in the region after days of lightning storms and hot, dry conditions. Alaska Division of Forestry fire managers in McGrath are currently focusing operational efforts to protect cabins, structures and allotments that are threatened from growing fires.

Four BLM Alaska Fire Service smokejumpers are on the ground setting up site protection for the Bureau of Land Management Bear Creek safety shelter located on the Iditarod Trail and the Farewell Remote Automated Weather Station near the Bear Creek Fire. The fire has grown to 550 acres and was reported to be actively burning in black spruce and tundra. The Bear Creek Fire was reported on Thursday approximately 50 miles southeast of McGrath.

The bear Creek Fire burning approximately 50 miles southeast of McGrath is now estimated at 550 acres. Nathan Zalewski/Alaska Division of Forestry

The Bear Creek Fire burning approximately 50 miles southeast of McGrath is now estimated at 550 acres. Nathan Zalewski/Alaska Division of Forestry


The Bear Creek Fire burning approximately 50 miles southeast of McGrath is now estimated at 550 acres. It is one of 45 active fires burning in Southwest Alaska. Nate Zalewski/Alaska Division of Forestry

The Bear Creek Fire burning approximately 50 miles southeast of McGrath is now estimated at 550 acres. It is one of 45 active fires burning in Southwest Alaska. Nathan Zalewski/Alaska Division of Forestry

The George River Fire continues to grow to 1000+ acres due to the northwest winds and continuous fuels. The fire is approximately 90 miles southwest of McGrath and has a cabin in the vicinity. A squad of the Yukon Type 2 Initial Attack Crew was flown into the area to improve a helicopter landing zone for increased access and to protect structures by setting up water sprinklers on the cabin.

The Doestock Fire approximately 150 miles southwest of McGrath is currently 800+ acres and is spreading to the north due to strong south winds. A McGrath helitack crew responded to a lodge located six miles away from the fire edge and firefighters are presently engaged in site protection operations.

The 800-acre Doestock Fire burning approximately 150 miles southwest of McGrath. Nathan Zalewski/Alaska Division of Forestry

The 800-acre Doestock Fire burning approximately 150 miles southwest of McGrath. Nathan Zalewski/Alaska Division of Forestry

Three small fires (Agate Fork 1, 2 and Hook Fork) located 25 miles north of McGrath grew together today for a combined total of 2,800 acres. No cabins or structures are currently threatened but smoke is visible from the community of McGrath and could impact aviation activity if conditions change. The Division of Forestry in McGrath is advising local pilots to stay informed about current smoke impacts and additional firefighting aviation resources in the area.

CONTACT: Public Information Officer, Sarah Saarloos, 907-715-4671, sarah.saarloos@alaska.gov

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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