Red Flag Warnings persist for northeastern Alaska

Hot, dry and windy weather continues to plague the northeastern Interior of Alaska prompting a Red Flag Warning to be in effect until 10 p.m. Saturday. The area along the southeastern Brooks Range from Bettles to the Canadian border, along with the Upper Yukon and surrounding uplands are under a National Weather Service Red Flag Warning due to high temperatures, low relative humidities, and strong winds. These critical conditions can cause existing fires to become more active and make it easier for new fires to start and spread rapidly.

There were two new fires discovered Friday in the BLM Alaska Fire Service’s Upper Yukon fire management zone bringing the total number of active fires in the zone to 30. Most of these fires are burning in remote areas designated for limited protection and are not threatening any sites of value. Despite this, firefighters are assigned to seven of these fires to provide protection to cabins and Native allotments while allowing the remainder of the fires to continue to function in their natural ecological role. As of Saturday, more than 96,000 acres have burned in the Upper Yukon Zone –a good portion of the more than 257,000 acres that have burned state wide.

A high pressure ridge is forecast to remain over northern Alaska into next week. Waves of moisture from the east will start to encroach on the ridge, bringing scattered rain showers that will elevate relative humidities and lesson the extreme fire weather.

Here’s a breakdown of staffed fires in the Upper Yukon Zone:

Hadweenzic (#321) – A lightning caused fire discovered Friday burning 21 miles northeast of Beaver along the west side of the Kadweenzic River. Two smokejumpers were deployed who, along with a helicopter dropping buckets of water, were successful at knocking the fire down. They worked throughout the evening to secure the edge keeping it at 1/4 acre.

Big Lake (#308) – 5 acres. Start Date 7/5/17. 19 personnel. Alaska Division of Forestry’s Type 2 Initial Attack (IA) White Mountain crew worked Friday to secure the edge and improve a hose lay around the fire. They searched for hot spots outside the main fire area and removed hazardous trees and snags for the safety of firefighters and outdoor recreationists and hunters when they return to the area. This fire is burning on Native land 5.6 miles northwest of Beaver.

Dietrich River (#304) – 285 acres. Start date 7/5/17. Four personnel. Alaska Fire service personnel are monitoring the fire that is burning along the Dalton Highway near Milepost 224. An Alaska Division of Forestry fire engine is enroute Saturday to provide assistance on the fire. Motorists on the Dalton Highway are advised to approach the area with caution, keeping an eye out for fire personnel and smoke possibly obscuring the road.

Rogers Creek (#298) – 12 acres. Start date 7/3/17. 27 personnel. Personnel pulled all of the pumps and hose off the fire. A final grid of the fire was completed and infrared aerial reconnaissance conducted by an Unmanned Aircraft System reported no heat found. All personnel are demobilizing from the fire Saturday. The fire has been called out. It was burning on the Yukon Flats National Wildlife Refuge, on the southeast side of the Yukon River, 11 miles from Stevens Village.

Boulder Creek (#292) – 4,400 acres. Start date 7/2/17. 23 personnel. The BLM AFS Type 1 Chena Interagency Hotshot Crew continues to improve saw line around a Native allotment and have completed a sprinkler system for structure protection measures around Vundik Lake. Reconnaissance aircraft reported Friday that the fire’s perimeter was 50 percent active, running and crowning to the northeast in continuous black spruce. This fire is burning in a limited suppression area in the Yukon Flats National Wildlife Refuge.

Discovery Creek (#283) – 7 acres. Start date 6/29/17. Two personnel. No activity was observed on the fire Friday despite strong winds and little to no precipitation reported. This fire has been declared out and the firefighters and their equipment are demobilizing on Saturday. This fire was located near historical cabins in a limited protection area in the Yukon Flats Wildlife Refuge

Campbell River (#268) – 24,900 acres. Start date 6/26/17. 34 personnel. Reconnaissance aircraft flew over the fire Friday and reported a 40 percent active perimeter with 10 foot flame lengths running to the east and north. The BLM AFS Midnight Sun Interagency Hotshot Crew reports that saw line and hose lays around the Native allotment at the confluence of the Salmon Trout and Campbell rivers is complete. The pumps and sprinkler system for the Fish and Wildlife Service permitted cabin at the confluence of the Porcupine and Campbell rivers will be completed Saturday. The fire is burning in a limited protection area within the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. It started in the Yukon Territory and crossed into Alaska. The total fire size is estimated to be more than 70,000 acres.

The other new fire discovered on Friday in the Upper Yukon Zone was reported by aerial reconnaissance to be at one acre and actively burning in black spruce. The Old Lost Creek Fire (#319) is burning in a limited protection area of the Yukon Flats National Wildlife Refuge about 30 miles east of Stevens Village. It has been placed into monitor status.

Contact Public Information Officer Sam Harrel at (907) 322-7204 or for more information.

Categories: Active Wildland Fire, AK Fire Info

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