BLM AFS firefighters mopping up two Interior Alaska fires

BLM Alaska Fire Service firefighters are mopping up two wildfires burning near the Canadian border. The Tchulkade Lake Fire (#254) was one of only two new starts in Alaska Wednesday. It is burning 22 miles southeast of Chalkyitsik and 65 miles west of the border. It was discovered at about 3:20 p.m. during a wildfire detection flight after a burst of lightning went through the eastern portion of the state Tuesday. A load of eight smokejumpers, two water-scooping Fire Boss airplanes and a helicopter with a water bucket worked on the fire for most of the evening. The fire was estimated at 78-acres and burning near a Native allotment with the Yukon Flats National Wildlife Refuge. Through the combination of ground and aerial suppression efforts, the perimeter was secured early Thursday morning. The smokejumpers are now extinguishing hotspots within the fire’s perimeter.

The other new start, the Trout Creek Fire (#256), was spotted by firefighters working on the nearby Pass Creek Fire (#245) since Sunday. The Trout Creek Fire is burning in a limited protection area close to a 2015 burn on the southwestern side of the Yukon River. Because there are no known sites of value near, fire officials are monitoring this fire. Meanwhile, four smokejumpers and three fire specialists are working on the Pass Creek Fire burning in the Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve about 18 miles north of Eagle. They built a containment line around the estimated 18-acre fire and walked a grid pattern on half of the fire Wednesday, extinguishing hot spots along the way. They expect to complete mopping up the rest of the fire in the next couple of days before demobilizing, possibly on Saturday.

The Trout Creek and Tchulkada Lake fires were the only new starts in Alaska Wednesday. As of Thursday morning, 224 fires have burned a total of 151,220 acres in Alaska. Of those fires, 157 were human caused and 66 were lightning caused. There are 72 active wildfires, but only four are staffed.

Contact BLM Alaska Fire Service Public Affairs Specialist Beth Ipsen at (907)356-5510 or eipsen@blm.gov for more information.

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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