Firefighting personnel on one of the two remaining staffed fires in the Alaska Division of Forestry’s Southwest Area were demobilized on Friday and the one remaining staffed fire will be downsizing this weekend.
More than a dozen wildfires were started by lighting between June 4-7 in the Southwest Area, which encompasses 88 million acres between McGrath and Dillingham. Several fires were staffed with firefighters to protect structures and limit fire spread. Heavy rain last weekend moderated fire activity on most of the fires.
The 2,653-acre Bell Creek Fire near the village of Crooked Creek on the Kuskokwim River about 110 miles southwest of McGrath remains the only staffed fire in the Southwest Area. There are 69 personnel still working on the fire.
Hand crews are progressing rapidly around the fire’s edge to secure it. No heat was found on Thursday and personnel expect to meet their objectives by Saturday. Infrared drone flights were flown throughout Thursday’s shift and no hot spots were detected. Infrared missions were expected to be completed today. The plan is to release one hotshot crew on Sunday and the remaining crew will be released early next week before the fire is turned back over to the Southwest Area office for monitoring.
All 41 personnel were pulled off the 16, 824-acre Pitka Fork Fire on Friday after construction and plumbing of indirect line along Sheep Creek was completed. All structure protection measures put in place were tested and tuned in the event the fire, approximately 60 miles east of McGrath, becomes active again and personnel have to return to turn them on. Only interior smokes were observed on the fire.