Rains miss northeast Alaskan Interior as fires there continue to burn

Despite much of Alaska receiving rain today, the southeastern Brooks Range, Upper Yukon River, and surrounding uplands continues to be hot, dry, and windy. Gusty northeasterly winds were expected in the southeastern Brooks Range and Yukon Flats. Fires burning in the Upper Yukon fire management zone moderated slightly Sunday, but a shift in the wind direction brought smoke to many communities along the Yukon River and Dalton Highway corridor. Fire weather meteorologists expect this weather pattern to persist in the area as a warming trend resumes this week and may continue into the weekend.

Fire managers, using remote sensing equipment, identified a possible fire in the Yukon Flats National Wildlife Refuge on Sunday. Aerial reconnaissance located the lightning-caused fire and reported it to be over 5,000-acres with a 100 percent active perimeter, a continuous crown fire, which was running and spotting up to 500 feet in front of itself. Weather in the area was reported as 100 percent cloud cover with east winds and no precipitation. No values at risk were identified in this remote area of the refuge. The Bear Mountain Fire (#325) is in a limited suppression area and was placed in monitor status. It is located 33 miles northeast of Circle.

An additional fire, discovered by aerial surveillance, is a 1-acre fire that was showing no activity or smoke. Located 10-miles northwest of Eagle Summit off the Steese Highway, the Loper 2 Fire (#326) was placed into monitor status. With two fires called out Sunday, these two new discoveries keeps the number of active fires in the upper Yukon fire management zone at 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 six 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.

This graphic shows the Fine Fuel Moisture levels in Alaska for July 8, today and predicted for July 12 as provided by the Alaska Fire & Fuels Meso West weather information program.

This graphic shows the Fine Fuel Moisture levels in Alaska for July 8, today and predicted for July 12 as provided by the Alaska Fire & Fuels Meso West weather information program.


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

Vunle Lakes (#322) – 4-acres. Start date 7/8/17. Eight personnel. Firefighters are mopping up, gridding and cold trailing the fire’s edge and the surrounding area looking for places still burning or holding heat. They do this by walking side-by-side in a line, carefully inspecting the ground with their bare hands, feeling everything for any residual heat to detect any fire. The fire is located 12-miles south of Chalkyitsik.

Hadweenzic (#321) – .2-acres. Start date 7/7/17. Two personnel. Firefighters located two areas of heat centralized in an area of spruce tree stumps and their root systems. The fire is considered contained and will be called out once they are confident that no more hot spots are in or around the fire. The lightning-caused fire is 21-miles northeast of Beaver along the west side of the Kadweenzic River.

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 gridded 600-feet in from the fire’s edge finding no heat or visible smoke on Sunday. Another 100 percent grid search of the fire is planned today by four Alaska Division of Forestry (DOF) Fire Technicians. The forestry firefighters were mobilized to the fire, enabling the White Mountain crew to move to the Boulder Creek Fire (#292). The Big Lake Fire is burning on Native land 5.6 miles northwest of Beaver.

Dietrich River (#304) – 285-acres. Start date 7/5/17. Four personnel. Minimal fire growth was observed Sunday due to a combination of higher relative humidity, cloud cover and lingering valley wide smoke. BLM AFS and DOF personnel are monitoring the fire that is burning along the Dalton Highway near Milepost 224. Motorists on the highway are advised to approach the area with caution, keeping an eye out for fire personnel and smoke possibly obscuring the road.

Boulder Creek (#292) – 13,907-acres, an increase of 8,581-acres since Saturday. Start date 7/2/17. 52 personnel. The BLM AFS entry-level Type 2 North Star Crew was reassigned to the fire, replacing the eight smokejumpers that demobilized Sunday. The North Stars will help the BLM AFS Type 1 Chena Interagency Hotshot Crew improve saw line around a Native allotment on Vundik Lake. Structure protection measures were completed for a cabin on the lake. Three Chena hotshots are stationed at the cabin in preparation of the fire possibly reaching them. The fires edge was reported to be 1.5-miles away from the cabin and 4.5-miles from the allotment on Sunday. Meanwile, west of Vundik Lake, the White Mountain crew will join smokejumpers’ continuing efforts to improve a saw line and hose lay to protect a Native allotment on the east side of the Sheenjek River. Small squads of smokejumpers will be helicoptered with their equipment, pumps, and hoses to start structure protection efforts on a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service permitted cabin at the confluence of the Sheenjek and Thluichohnjik Creek and another one about 14-miles down the Sheenjek. Fire behavior on Sunday was reported as less active due to lower temperatures and higher relative humidity. Much of the fire was sheltered by cloud cover which slowed the fire’s progression. However, new satellite data showed an increase in the fire size. This fire, along with White Snow Fire (#303) and Helmet Fire (#312), are all within eight-miles of each other on the east side of the Sheenjek River. They are burning in a limited suppression area in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Campbell River (#268) – 26,914-acres, an increase of 595-acres since Saturday. Start date 6/26/17. 39 personnel. The BLM AFS Type 1 Midnight Sun Interagency Hotshot Crew have completed preparations for protecting the Native allotment at the confluence of the Salmon Trout and Porcupine rivers, the Fish and Wildlife Service permitted cabin at the confluence of the Porcupine and Campbell rivers, and the area of Old Rampart. Five BLM Fire Specialists have assigned to the fire to replace four smokejumpers who are being demobilized today. 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 90,000 acres.

Contact Public Information Officer Sam Harrel at (907) 322-7204 or pio.samharrel@gmail.com for more information.


Categories: Active Wildland Fire, AK Fire Info, BLM Alaska Fire Service

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