Cooler, wet weather hits Southwest Alaska

The North Hills Fire was burning within seven miles north of St. Mary's. Eight smokejumpers quickly responded and were able to catch the fire. They plan on demobilizing from the fire on Friday.

The North Hills Fire was burning within seven miles north of St. Mary’s. Eight smokejumpers quickly responded Thursday and were able to contain the fire. They plan on demobilizing from the fire on Friday.

Cooler and wetter weather is giving wildland firefighters in Southwest Alaska a reprieve for the first time since lightning stuck along the southern Yukon River corridor Sunday. That moisture is predicted to continue through the weekend in the southwestern portion of the state.

Six new fires broke out Thursday in BLM Alaska Fire Service’s Galena Zone, which encompasses 93 million acres of Western Alaska starting at the Yukon River and running north to the Arctic Ocean. Of those six, four were placed in monitor status because they were in a limited protection areas and not threatening any known sites of value. Meanwhile, BLM Alaska Fire Service smokejumpers quickly responded to the Andreafsky and North Hills fires burning near St. Mary’s.

By the end of the Thursday, 27 of the 34 active fires within BLM AFS’s suppression area fell within the Galena Zone. The Tanana Zone and Upper Yukon Zones are experiencing hot, dry and windy conditions, but didn’t get the lightning to trigger fires. However, they won’t get as big of a break from the drier conditions.

Of the 57 active fires across the state, only 10 were staffed as of Friday morning. With the exception of the North Robertson Fire near Tok, all staffed fires are in Southwest Alaska within either BLM AFS or Alaska Division of Forestry suppression areas.

New staffed fires in the BLM AFS Galena Zone:

Andreafsky Fire (#206) – This fire was by spotted by a local resident around midday Thursday. It was burning 10-15 miles northeast of St. Mary’s in a full management option area as determined by a BLM Alaska Fire Service personnel that responded to the report of smoke. It was estimated to be 120 acres and creeping in tundra. Three Fire Boss airplanes dropped water on the fire and a load of eight smokejumpers was ordered. They got to work late that night putting in control line. By Friday morning, the fire was estimated to be about 760 acres. Smokejumpers reported Thursday that the fire had primarily moved west with the head being held up at a riparian area to the east.

North Hills Fire (#207) – This fire was spotted at 2 p.m. by BLM AFS personnel flying in the area. Eight smokejumpers responded to work on the fire. By 10 p.m., the fire was reported 75 percent contained with no active flame, only heavy smoke. It was digitally mapped at 234 acres Friday morning. These smokejumpers plan on demobilizing from the fire today after feel this fire is sufficiently contained.

Other staffed fires:

Deadmans Slough Fire (#162) – Aided by overcast skies and intermittent showers, crews continue to make good progress on this fire burning near Anvik since June 4. The Type 2 Grayling village crew was put in place Thursday morning to work with the Chena Interagency Hotshot Crew and others on the ground. Four of the eight smokejumpers who had been working since shortly after the fire started were demobilized. The fire didn’t show any new growth in the past few days and remains at 424 acres. This allows those crews to continue mopping up the fire, putting out hot spots and securing the control line deeper into the heel of the fire.

Kogok River Fire (#175) – When this fire was discovered on June 6, it was reported as five acres and running through tundra fuels. On Thursday, the Midnight Sun Interagency Hotshot crew was moved to this fire burning 25 miles south of Stebbins on the west side of the Nunakogok River. The plan today was for the crew to use the water-scooping Fire Bosses and favorable weather to help secure the right shoulder of the fire. It was estimated to be almost 2,400 acres by Friday morning.

Contact BLM Alaska Fire Service Public Affairs Specialist Beth Ipsen at (907)356-5510 or



About BLM Alaska Fire Service

The Bureau of Land Management Alaska Fire Service (AFS) located at Fort Wainwright, Alaska, provides wildland fire suppression services for over 244 million acres of Department of the Interior and Native Corporation Lands in Alaska. In addition, AFS has other statewide responsibilities that include: interpretation of fire management policy; oversight of the BLM Alaska Aviation program; fuels management projects; and operating and maintaining advanced communication and computer systems such as the Alaska Lightning Detection System. AFS also maintains a National Incident Support Cache with a $10 million inventory. The Alaska Fire Service provides wildland fire suppression services for America’s “Last Frontier” on an interagency basis with the State of Alaska Department of Natural Resources, USDA Forest Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the U.S. Military in Alaska.

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