Northeastern Alaska continues to be active for wildfires

The north and central Interior continues to be the most active for wildfires with four of the five staffed fires in Alaska falling within this part of the state.  Clouds and rain are forecasted to roll through the area this weekend, but how much and whether it will negate some of the persistent dry conditions remains to be seen. A high pressure ridge will settle over most of Alaska on Tuesday and the northeastern corner will transition back into that perpetual drying trend. The northern Interior, specifically the Yukon Flats centered on the confluence of the Yukon, Porcupine and Chandler rivers, is known as a hot, dry spot in the summer. This year is no different. The Yukon Flats includes the villages of Fort Yukon, Chalkyitsik, Venetie, Beaver and Stevens Village. Firefighters and BLM AFS aircraft are staged in Fort Yukon to manage and respond to fires buring in an area north of the Yukon River.

Eight smokejumpers are now working on protecting a public use cabin from the Seven Mile Fire (#286) burning about three miles away in the Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve. The smokejumpers arrived on Saturday to put pumps and sprinklers in place in case the fire threatens the cabin near the mouth of the Kandik River as it empties into the Yukon River. Otherwise, the fire has been burning in a limited management option area since Thursday — meaning firefighters will protect sites of value but will not take action to suppress the fire.

The only new fire discovered in Alaska on Friday, the Dorothy Creek Fire (#288), was spotted by a BLM Alaska Fire Service aircraft on a return flight to Fort Yukon. BLM AFS Upper Yukon Zone personnel aboard the plane reported the fire was burning in brush and tundra and backing to the west. It was estimated to be 287 acres and burning in a limited suppression area in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Because it is not threatening any known sites of value, it was put in monitor status.

The Campbell River Fire (#268) was very active Friday, growing by an estimated 2,000 acres on the U.S. side of the border about 77 miles northeast of Chalkyitsik. Based on satellite imagery, the entire fire has probably burned about 60,000 acres, with about 8,000 of it in Alaska. Fire officials predict it will also be active today. There are 46 people working on prepping a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service-permitted cabin on the Campbell River about 10 miles to the northwest of the fire and a large Native allotment about 14 miles to the southwest at the confluence of the Salmon Trout and Campbell rivers. The Type 1 Midnight Sun Interagency Hotshot Crew is concentrating on constructing a fuel break around the allotment while the eight smokejumpers and three fire specialists set up hose lays. Eight smokejumpers are prepping the Campbell River cabin for structure protection.

The fire is burning through a mixture of tundra and black spruce — two potentially fast burning fuel types. Weather in this area is expected to remain warm and dry through the weekend with only a 10-20 percent chance of thunderstorms on Sunday. Winds out of the east will continue to push the fire toward west and toward the allotment and cabin. Luckily, the fire still has a ways to go and will be slowed down at times along ridge lines and will need to bump around lakes and creeks along the way.

Eight smokejumpers were demobilized Friday from the Discovery Creek Fire (#283) burning 30 miles south of Fort Yukon in the Yukon Flats National Wildlife Refuge. Eight more smokejumpers and the 21-member North Star Crew remain on the fire and were able to complete a saw line to remove burnable material and a hose lay around the entire 7-acre fire on Friday. An estimated 10 percent of the edge was considered secure by the end of the day. Fire activity is expected to moderate today due to the chance of rains following through the area this weekend.

Eight smokejumpers and two fire specialists continue to work on protecting historical cabins within 2-3 miles from the 1,266-acre Loper Creek Fire (#272). This fire is burning through a mixture of black spruce and tundra. Fire activity is predicted to moderate as the weekend progresses due to thunderstorms and rain forecasted in the area Sunday. The fire is burning on BLM land 43 miles southwest of Circle.

As of Saturday morning, an estimated 177,948 acres have burned in 255 fires this year. Of those fires, 165 were determined to be human caused and 89, including the staffed fires, were considered lightning-caused fires. Of these, 108 fires and 100,390 acres fall within the BLM AFS protection area that covers the northern half of the state. Eighteen fires have burned 24,732 acres in the Upper Yukon Zone alone. This zone includes almost 52 million acres within an area that ranges from the Yukon River north to the Arctic Ocean and the Canadian border west to the Dalton Highway. The only staffed fire outside the BLM AFS Upper Yukon Zone is the East Fork Fire on the Kenai Peninsula. There are 89 active fires across the state.

For more information, contact BLM AFS Public Affairs Specialist Beth Ipsen at 356-5510 or email at 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.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: