July 20, 3:30 p.m. – Approximately 50 community members of the McCarthy-Kennecott area attended a public meeting yesterday in McCarthy, where fire officials discussed and answered questions concerning the fire. Both Alaska Division of Forestry and National Park Service fire managers provided information on the current status of the fire, upcoming predicted fire weather, and some strategic plans for the next few days.
The Steamboat Creek Fire is burning about 12 miles south of McCarthy. Yesterday, the fire made significant movement due to dry and windy conditions and, after more accurate mapping, is estimated to be 12,000 acres in size. The fire will continue to be closely monitored and actions taken, as necessary, to protect identified values at risk.
The primary objective for managers is to keep the fire southeast of the Chitina River and continue to monitor fire activity. Additional resources are being ordered and will be in place to help support this operational plan. Last night, the Alaska Division of Forestry deployed four Fire Boss water-scooping planes (crop-duster type plane with flotation) to drop water on the southeast perimeter along the Chitina River in an effort to hold the fire.
With the increase in fire activity smoke is very visible from as far as Kenny Lake and along the McCarthy Road. There are no obstructions along the road and no impacts from smoke. Businesses and recreational opportunities are still available in the area and are not impacted by the fire at this time.
A Temporary Flight Restriction is in effect for south of the Chitina River area, roughly 8 miles wide and 34 miles long, from the Nizina River confluence to the Tana River confluence. Fire managers are asking that pilots to be aware of this and be on the look-out for fire aircraft in the area.
More accurate mapping will occur today to get a better sense of how large the fire has become and to help with planning purposes. More information can be found on Inciweb: http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/4867/
Other fires in the area continue to be monitored by fire personnel:
Yokneda Lake Fire (2,097 acres) – Fire activity was steady yesterday, as a storm front moved through and more smoke was visible. There is activity in the northeastern portion of the fire with creeping, smoldering, and some torching observed. Smoke may still be visible from the Tok Cutoff Highway.
Cutoff Fire (57 acres) – Crews have continued to make excellent progress and looking to have fire resources to be demobilized from the incident by 6 PM this evening.
Copper River Fire (0.2 acres) – The fire has been called contained and controlled with fire resources continuing to monitor for any fire activity.
Klawasi Fire (0.2 acres) – Continues to be monitored with no smoke being observed.
Hot and dry conditions continue in the Copper River Basin today but a predicted forecast of rain is set to arrive on Thursday. There is a Burn Suspension in effect for the Copper River Basin, meaning that all burn permits have been suspended. Warming fires and campfires are still allowed, but please use caution and be mindful of any activities that have the potential to cause a wildfire.