Weather permitting, firefighters will be released this weekend from the only two wildfires still being staffed in the Alaska Division of Forestry’s Southwest Area between McGrath and Dillingham.
Tentative demobilization is scheduled for Friday for the 42 personnel on the 220-acre Paimiut Fire approximately 20 miles southeast of Holy Cross. The 33 personnel still working on the 2,653-acre Bell Creek Fire near the Kuskokwim River village of Crooked Creek will be pulled off that fire by the end of shift on Saturday, according to the Alaska Division of Forestry.
Those two fires are the last of more than a dozen fires that were started by lightning in the Southwest Area over the past two weeks that still have personnel assigned to them. As of Wednesday morning, there were 14 fires still listed as active in the Southwest Area, the majority of which are burning in limited suppression areas. The Division of Forestry is regularly monitoring unstaffed fires from the air.
On Tuesday, the Yukon Type 2 Initial Attack Crew continued to grid and mop up any hot spots found along the perimeter of the Bell Creek Fire. The crew was pulled off the fireline at the end of shift and will spend today removing equipment that was put in place to protect structures in Crooked Creek when the fire was threatening the village. The crew will be flown out Friday and remaining overhead and backhaul will be flown off the fire on Saturday.
On the Paimiut Fire, six BLM Alaska Fire Service smokejumpers and two Type 2 crews from Hooper Bay and Chevak spent Tuesday working the tail and right flank of the fire to extinguish any hot spots found 300 feet in from the fire’s edge. The fire has many fingers separated by lakes and a 5-mile perimeter. The fire was declared contained Tuesday evening but firefighters will continue to secure the fire’s right flank 300 feet in from the edge on Wednesday and Thursday before a planned demobilization on Friday.
The other unstaffed, active fires in the Southwest Area are being monitored by air to ensure they don’t pose a threat to any values at risk.