Monday was the first day since June 25 that no new fires were reported in the Upper Yukon Fire management zone. Despite being the first in 16 days without a new fire start, an increase of 37,251 acres occurred yesterday brings the year’s total in the zone to 176,942 acres – more than half the year’s statewide total of 339,404. Hot, dry, and windy weather has persisted in the southeastern Brooks Range, Upper Yukon River, and surrounding uplands for the summer. Today will be no different. The National Weather Service says to expect gusty northeast to east winds to develop today in the northeastern Interior. The winds, along with temperatures in the upper 70s to low 80s and low relative humidity, will result in near red flag conditions.
There are 29 active fires in the Upper Yukon fire management zone. 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 five 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.
Here’s a breakdown of staffed fires in the Upper Yukon Zone:
Vunle Lakes (#322) – 4 acres. Start date 7/8/17. Eight smokejumpers. The smokejumpers completed mop-up and gridding operations Monday finding no heat in the fire area or any spots in the surrounding green areas around the fire. An unmanned flying system – otherwise known as a drone – equipped with an infrared camera confirmed no heat remains in the area around the fire. The smokejumpers started pulling hose, pumps and other gear off the fire line in preparation to demobilize from the fire today. At that point they will call the fire out. The fire is located 12-miles south of Chalkyitsik.
Big Lake (#308) – 5 acres. Start Date 7/5/17. Four personnel. Alaska Division of Forestry (DOF) Fire Technicians conducted a 100-percent grid search of the fire and surrounding unburned areas and found no hot spots. The firefighters reported rain fell on the fire area for about an hour late in the evening with 20-minutes of heavy, wetting rain. Today they will pack up surplus equipment for back haul and continue to patrol the fire. The Big Lake Fire is located on Native land 5.6 miles northwest of Beaver.
Dietrich River (#304) – 400 acres, an increase of 115 acres since Sunday. Start date 7/5/17. Four personnel. Minimal fire growth was observed Monday as multiple thunderstorms passed through the area. However, firefighters reported no rain fell on the fire. BLM Alaska Fire Service (BLM AFS) and DOF personnel are monitoring the fire 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. 75 personnel. Firefighters are organized into two different groups, both tasked with providing protection to Native allotments and permitted cabins in the area of Vundik Lake and the Sheenjek River. Crews will continue to improve their saw lines and sprinkler set ups as they hold their positions and monitor the fires burning nearby. Heavy smoke prevented aerial reconnaissance of the fires Monday evening so another attempt is planned for this morning. On Sunday the fire’s edge was reported to be 1.5-miles away from the Vundik Lake cabin and 4.5-miles from the allotment. This fire, along with White Snow Fire (#303) and Helmet Fire (#312), are all within six 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) – 31,478 acres, an increase of 4,564 acres since Sunday. Start date 6/26/17. 39 personnel. Firefighters continue to improve their saw lines and sprinkler set ups as they prepare to protect Native allotments and permitted cabins in the areas of Salmon Trout, Porcupine, and Campbell rivers. 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 93,000 acres.
Contact Public Information Officer Sam Harrel at (907) 322-7204 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.