Firefighters mopping up Mid Salcha Fire – literally

Crews continue mop-up operations on the rain-soaked Mid Salcha Fire near the Salcha River south of Fairbanks.
The 1,165-acre wildfire is 50 percent contained and there are 129 personnel still working on the fire, including five 20-person crews, according to the Alaska Division of Forestry. The main focus at this point is securing the northern edge of the fire that is closest to the river and more than 30 recreational cabins that were threatened by the fire. Crews are working on mopping up 100 feet inside the line.
More than 2 inches of rain fell on the fire over the course of Sunday and Monday, causing the Salcha River to rise dramatically over the course of 24 hours. Firefighters were forced to relocate campsites and helicopter landing zones that were inundated with water on Tuesday morning. The water level in the river is slowly dropping but remains a safety concern because of trees being washed down the river, posing a hazard to boat operators shuttling firefighters and equipment.
A few pockets of heat remain in areas of heavy stands of timber but most of the fire was soaked by rain that left considerable standing water on the southern edge of the fire. Some areas of the fire were so wet that firefighters had to build bridges to reach them.
The number of personnel working on the fire will be reduced over the next few days as crews achieve further containment.
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.
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.

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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