Rain helps and hinders firefighters on Mid Salcha Fire

Fairbanks – July 18, 7:45 p.m. – While heavy rain has aided firefighters working a fire burning near dozens of recreational cabins on the Salcha River south of Fairbanks, it is also posing challenges.
The 1,170-acre Mid Salcha Fire has received over 2 inches of rain in the last 48 hours. While the rain has reduced fire behavior substantially, it had also caused the Salcha River to rise 8-10 inches as of Monday afternoon and the water is expected to continue rising.
The high water has forced fire managers to relocate helicopter landing spots located on gravel bars and the river bank. The rain has also washed a lot of debris and deadfalls into the river channel, posing a hazard to boats transporting firefighters and firefighting equipment. In addition, the rain makes it hard for firefighters to stay dry while working long hours in muddy conditions. The wind has also created problems by blowing down snags that have been loosened by the saturated soils.
The Mid Salcha Fire was 24 percent contained as of Monday afternoon and there were 120 personnel working on the fire, according to the Alaska Division of Forestry. The threat to the cabins along the south side of the river has been reduced and firefighters are still focused on securing the fire perimeter closest to the cabins.
The fire is located about 15 air miles upriver from the Richardson Highway and the community of Salcha. It is one-half mile south of the river and 3 miles north of the trans-Alaska oil pipeline. An incident command post is located at the Salchaket Roadhouse at Mile 322.2 of the Richardson Highway.
River users are advised to use caution due to the high water, debris and increased boat traffic transporting firefighters and equipment.
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.

Categories: Active Wildland Fire, AK Fire Info

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