Southwest wildfires increase in size due to windy conditions

July 18, 5:45 p.m. – Winds continue to increase the spread of multiple wildfires burning in Southwest Alaska despite cloud cover and cooler temperatures. Alaska Division of Forestry firefighters have been deployed to protect cabins, structures and allotments that are threatened from the growing fires.

The Donlin Mine is located 6 miles east of the 4,000-acre Smith Creek Fire. Firefighters were mobilized to the mine to assess structures and implement a structure protection plan for the compound. Additional supplies and personnel were delivered today to assist in setting up sprinklers in the mine area.

Firefighters responded by helicopter to allotments with structures near the Israthorak Creek Fire located in the Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge. The fire is currently 8,000 acres and burning actively in black spruce and tundra.

The 8,000-acre Israthorak Creek Fire in the Yukon Delta National Wildlfie Refuge is burning 200 miles southwest of McGrath. It has increased in size by 7,600 acres since Thursday. Alaska Division of Forestry photo

The 8,000-acre Israthorak Creek Fire in the Yukon Delta National Wildlfie Refuge is burning 200 miles southwest of McGrath. It has increased in size by 7,600 acres since Thursday. Alaska Division of Forestry photo

The Bear Creek Fire is currently 598 acres with moderate fire activity. Structure protection tactics for the Bureau of Land Management Bear Creek safety shelter located on the Iditarod Trail and the Farewell Remote Automated Weather Station were successful and the four Alaska smokejumpers will be returning from the fire tomorrow.

The Yukon Type 2 Initial Attack squad continues to protect structures on the George River Fire by setting up water sprinklers on the cabin and clearing vegetation to create a fire break around the property. The George River Fire is approximately 90 miles southwest of McGrath and was mapped yesterday at 1,000+ acres. Fire managers are expecting to see an increase in acreage due to strong winds today.

The Doestock Fire grew to 1,209 acres and was reported to be creeping in the tundra due to westerly winds. McGrath helitack firefighters are working to remove trees to create a fire break around a lodge that is located in the vicinity of the fire.

Information and maps of the Southwest Area Fires is available online at http://www.akfireinfo.com and will be posted locally in McGrath . Further information is available by contacting the Southwest Area Public Information Officer, Sarah Saarloos, 907-715-4671, sarah.saarloos@alaska.gov

Supplies are packaged and waiting for transport at the McGrath Area forestry office. Sarah Saarloos/Alaska Division of Foresty

Supplies are packaged and waiting for transport at the McGrath Area forestry office. Sarah Saarloos/Alaska Division of Foresty

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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