Weather helps suppression, hinders demobilization of Norton Sound fires

The same weather that helped firefighters with suppression efforts over the past few days is now keeping them from demobilizing from two fires burning near the western coast of Alaska. A squad of six emergency firefighters from the Grayling village crew have been mopping up the Stebbins Dump Fire (#238) since BLM Alaska Fire Service smokejumpers completed a saw line around the six acre fire on Saturday. Meanwhile, the 2,500-acre Romanoff Fire (#234) received a substantial amount of rain in the past few days to help the 16 smokejumpers get the fire contained by the end of Monday. They were starting to demobilize from the fire, but the same weather that helped calm fire activity has hampered flight time for a helicopter to shuttle them off the fire. The fires will be put in monitor status once they are demobilized. Both fires are suspected to be human caused.

Three aircraft, including two water-scooping Fire Boss airplanes capable of dropping 800 gallons of water apiece, and a load of smokejumpers initially worked on the Romanoff fire burning in tundra of the Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge on the south side of Point Romanof since Friday. Another load of eight smokejumpers was on its way Saturday, but was rerouted after receiving a report that a fire had escaped the Stebbins dump. The airplanes were also diverted to Stebbins to drop water on the fire that was burning about a half mile from the village. Due to hazardous material inside the dump, smokejumpers concentrated on the fire that escaped. The fire was estimated at six acres with a half an acre within the dump perimeter. With the help of the water scoopers, smokejumpers were able to get a line constructed around the fire on Saturday to stop the spread of the fire. Six emergency firefighters from the Grayling village crew were taken off the Deadmans Slough Fire (#162) burning near Anvik since June 4 and flown to Stebbins to replace six smokejumpers that were shuttled by a helicopter to the Romanoff Fire.

For more information, contact BLM AFS Public Affairs Specialist Beth Ipsen at (907)356-5510 or eipsen@blm.gov.

 

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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